Two of the seven employees of IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd (ITNL), part of IL&FS group, who were held hostage in Ethiopia for non-payment of dues have been released, IL&FS said on Saturday.
“As a result of collective and sustained engagement with various authorities, two of the seven employees have been allowed to move out of the camp and are now in Addis Ababa,” IL&FS said. Seven of its Indian employees, based at project camp sites, were not being allowed to leave their respective camp sites by the local community on account of unpaid dues by the project company, it said. IL&FS Transportation Networks through its subsidiary Elsamex SA has been executing projects across three sites in Ethiopia. Earlier, India had asked Ethiopian authorities to investigate and help the seven Indian IL&FS employees who say they are being held by local staff due to non-payment of salaries, a government official said on Saturday.
According to a Reuters report which quoted store manager Nagaraju Bishnu, one of the employees held hostage, a group of four employees has not been allowed to leave an IL&FS campus in Bure town,since November 24. Two other IL&FS employees were held hostage by local staff in the town of Woliso and one in Nekemte town, both of which are west of the Ethiopian capital.
Neeraj Raghuwanshi, one of the employees held hostage in Ethiopia, tweeted, “we seven employees from ILFS are hostages by local staff in Ethiopia for the last four days because of non-payment of creditors and local salaries. ILFS denied to send fund from India. Kindly save us. Day2day, the situation (is) worsening.” “IL&FS group has been making all round efforts, in coordination with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), Government of India and the Indian Embassy in Addis Ababa, to ensure safe and early return of its employees,” IL&FS said.
“ITNL had sought approval on November 16, 2018, through its authorized dealer bank, to remit funds overseas. Approvals are awaited,” IL&FS said. “We continue to work towards resolving the situation and have been in touch with our employees in Ethiopia.” On October 1, the government had moved the NCLT to supersede the board of IL&FS, which had defaulted on payments of over Rs 5,000 crore over a two-month time period.