Ravi appeals to Indian workers in UAE to shun violence

July 8th, 2008 - 6:16 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 8 (IANS) Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi Tuesday appealed to Indian workers in the UAE not to resort to violence to resolve their grievances after nearly 3,000 of them were arrested Friday for rioting. “We cannot accept any kind of violence in Gulf. I appeal to the Gulf workers (from India) to not to resort to violence,” Ravi said at the opening session of the first consultation meeting of his ministry with state governments here.

The minister said the Indian workers were detained in three jails in the UAE after employees of a ceramics manufacturing unit in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah damaged property and burned vehicles Friday night to protest poor quality of food at their canteen.

This was the first time that Indian workers had indulged in violence in the Gulf nation.

Ravi, who is also the parliamentary affairs minister, said he had spoken to the Indian ambassador in UAE, Talmiz Ahmed, Monday night to discuss the situation.

“We are there to protect you. Please keep the honour of India. Do not complicate the situation,” he said, adding: “And it was such a small issue of canteen.”

Ravi pointed out that with the workers trashing their camp, the issue had become knottier than a mere labour dispute.

“When we spoke to our counterparts in the (UAE) labour ministry, they told us that the matter was out of their hands and being dealt with the interior ministry as it is a law and order problem,” he later told reporters.

The minister confirmed that UAE authorities have threatened to deport the workers. “We are asking them not take such harsh measures,” said Ravi, adding that Indian authorities, including the ambassador and the consul-general were trying to get the majority of the Indian workers of the factory, who were not involved in the violence, released.

“It is possible that a small portion of them may be sent back,” he said.

The United Arab Emirates is home to about 1.5 million Indian nationals - out of the five million living and working in the Gulf region.

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