Stranded goldsmiths return from Iran

Kolkata, Oct 31 (PTI) Eleven goldsmiths from West Bengal, who had been stranded in Iran for the past several months, returned on Wednesday following intervention of the Centre.

The youths from Hooghly, Cooch Behar, Howrah and Burdwan districts had gone to Iran in February but their travel documents were allegedly seized by their employer, a member of an NGO National Anti-trafficking Committee (NATC) said.

The NGO had been trying to bring back the youths since mid-October.

“We had informed the ministry of external affairs, Prime Ministers Office, West Bengal Chief Minister’s office, ADG CID and Embassy of Islamic Republic of Iran, New Delhi.

Finally, their return was possible with the effort of all concerned as the company which had taken them to Iran agreed to pay their air fare following the intervention of MEA,” the NATC member said.

“After reaching Iran in February 2018, things were fine in the initial months. But after two months, our salaries were stopped and we had no money to fend for ourselves,” Sheikh Moinuddin, a returnee, said.

The goldsmiths did not receive salaries for almost five months and had to do with little food, the NATC official said adding even their passports were taken away by the owner of the firm, where they worked.

“We have been waiting for this moment. Thanks to the MEA and other authorities to come to our aid,” Sheikh Salim, brother-in-law of Sheikh Mounuddin said.

Saheed Ali Sheikh of Pandua in Hooghly district, whose son Enamul was among the 11 members who returned, said it was a great relief to see his youngest son back.

The 12 goldsmiths were rescued from Chabahar in Iran.

While 11 of them returned, one is still stuck due to visa problems.