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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2963

NY Social Activist Saves 82 Deserted Laborers in Riyadh

New York, 22 December, (

Eighty-two unskilled laborers from India of which 33 are from Rajasthan were rescued from inhumane conditions in Saudi Arabia thanks to the timely intervention of Prem Bhandari, social activist and a leader of the Rajasthani community in New York.

The laborers were shepherded to Riyadh on a false promise by a broker who took Rs One lakh (about $2500) from each as his fee. They were left in lurch, abandoned on reaching the country and were on the verge of collapse not knowing where to go. There was no food or shelter and most of the slept hungry on the sidewalks of streets with lurking fear of deportation.

Some of them had gone to the extent of committing suicide unable to return to their motherland as they had pledged whatever they had in assets to pay to the brokers for the employment in Saudi Arabia that was as close as a mirage.

Prem Bhandari, a leader of repute of the Rajasthani community of New York who is also International Convener of Akil Bhartiya Rajasthani Manyatha Sangarsh Samiti swung into action and immediately established connections in Riyadh.

Bhandari requested Gowrishankar Parikh, president of Rajasthani International Association of Riyadh to provide food and shelter to all the stranded laborers to save their lives.

He also requested Iqbal, owner of Madina Restaurant in Riyadh and who hails from Didwana of Rajasthan to serve food to all the laborers free of cost to prevent starvation deaths. Gowrishankar who was 400 miles away ensured that the required relief efforts reached on time.

Not satisfied, Bhadari personally called Indian Foreign Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid seeking his intervention. The victims said ministers and officials of the Government of Rajasthan showed no interest to help the workers and did not register criminal case against the broker who cheated them.

The workers told Bhandari that they would have committed suicide but for his timely intervention.

Rajasthan police showed no interest in arresting the culprits despite having being given them the details of the fraudsters.

Bhandari said Delhi Police acted swiftly to book cases against the culprits while Rajasthan Police remained a mute spectator in the episode till today. To expedite the matter, Bhandari spoke to the Indian Ambassador in Riyadh and Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the US in Washington. He even wrote a letter to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia seeking his intervention.

The victims regretted that the then Congress government led by Ashok Ghelot remained a mute spectator when the workers were on the verge of starvation deaths in Riyadh.

At one point, Bhandari was even prepared to stage a protest demonstration against the government inaction in front of the Consulate General of India in New York.

Bhandari, who has over the years assiduously built solid connections with top political leadership with all the major political parties of India, said Vasundara Raje taking over as Chief Minister of Rajasthan will usher in a new era of development and progress in his home state of Rajasthan.

“She is a doer and an able administrator. Before she took charge she asked one question to the senior officials as to who is Commissioner of Jaipur City Development Authority and within two days the entire city was cleaned, garbage removed and spruced up. We need action-leaders like her to do good to the people. I plan to send a report to her on what happened in the workers case and how to prevent its recurrence in the future.”

Bhandari has been fighting to include Rajasthani basha in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution so that Civil Service Exam aspirants can write the exams in their mother tongue. He even addressed the issue while speaking at Rashtrapathi Bhavan when Prathipa Patil was the President.

Bhandari is also the Media Chair of the Rajasthani Association of North America (Canada) and a prominent businessman. He was decorated with 2011 Rajasthani Man of the Year Award by California RANA and honored by the Canada RANA for his efforts to promote Rajasthani language. He got the 2011 Marwar Jodhpur Highest Award Siropow from Jodhpur Maharaja Gaj Singh.

- Asian Tribune -

Prem Bhandari with Maharajah Gaj Singh
Prem Bhandari with Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundara Raje
diconary view
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