2 Indian traders in Yiwu: Kidnapped, assaulted & now abandoned?-

Kidnapped, assaulted & now abandoned?

29 Mar 2012, 0848 hrs IST

Indian trader Deepak Raheja was freed from the illegal custody of the Chinese just three months ago but now Raheja and his colleague Shyamsundar Agarwal again in deep trouble with no money and Indian embassy stopping financial help they are fending for themselves on the streets of Shanghai. Deepak Raheja, Indian trader, said, “We are sleeping on the footpaths of China. Indian Government is saying that we do not have funds. We cannot leave the country because of the own going case.”

Raheja and Shyamsundar were held hostage in the Chinese trade hub of Yiwu in December after their owner fled leaving behind massive dues. Shyamsundar Agarwal, Indian trader, said, “The consulate in our embassy keeps on saying that they will do something and that we should wait for a day. But we are in very poor condition, neither do we have anything to eat nor do we have any shelter.” The Indian Government is promising action. The fate of these Indian traders now hangs in balance but with the Chinese President Hu Jintao scheduled to arrive in New Delhi today for the BRICS Summit some hope for their return.

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Yiwu:Indian traders in Shanghai told to ‘honour’ their commitments

Chinese officials on Thursday said the two Indian traders who have been rendered homeless in Shanghai while awaiting judgement from a Chinese court cannot leave the country unless their case was resolved and they “honoured their compensations”.

Deepak Raheja and Shyamsunder Agarwal have been accused by Chinese traders of owing more than 10 million RMB ($ 1.58 million) after the Yemeni owner of their trading firm in the southern hub of Yiwu fled abroad leaving dues unpaid. The two traders were held hostage in Yiwu for two weeks in December, but allowed by a local court to leave to Shanghai after surrendering their passports while prosecutors investigate the case.

The two traders have been forced to spend the last two nights on the streets of Shanghai after being thrown out of their hotel because they could not pay their bills. The Indian Consulate in the city had so far been covering their expenses, but said it did not have the approval to go beyond the 45,000 RMB ($7,142) it has already spent on the two men.

While the traders have told the Indian media they will go on “a hunger strike” until they are allowed to leave China, such a prospect remains unlikely until the legal procedures run their course.

Chinese officials also stress that the traders still have to answer the charges of suppliers who have lost millions on account of the trading firm where they worked. The firm owes their customers in Yiwu at least 10 million RMB ($ 1.58 million).

“As far as we know, the local court has tried to mediate the case and handle it according to law,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei.

“Since the two Indian businessmen up to now have not honoured their compensation commitment, the relevant court has ordered them not to leave. This order is still in effect. We hope the businessmen will respond to the demand of the relevant Chinese businessmen so that the issue can be properly handled.”

Mr. Raheja and Mr. Agarwal have said they were only employees in the firm and it was the Yemeni owner who was responsible for the payments.

However, Chinese traders have produced documents and receipts in court, with the signatures of the Indian traders, acknowledging the dues. The Indian traders said the documents were signed under duress.

Hearings began in an Intermediate court in Jinhua, near Shanghai, on March 1.

According to one legal expert familiar with the workings of the Chinese system, even the best outcome for the traders would possibly be deportation without jail time but would likely also entail a heavy fine, one which Mr. Raheja says he will be unable to pay. “Even if the owner is Yemeni, if he cannot be found, it is very hard to imagine the authorities letting foreign nationals leave scot free when there are angry Chinese traders still owed money by the same firm,” the expert said.

With the trading firm’s Yemeni owner still untraceable, Mr. Raheja told The Hindu he is in a “dire” financial situation, having already paid 900,000 RMB ($143,000) out of his own personal savings while he was being held captive. He has also demanded compensation for his money and for the trauma he faced while being illegally detained by Chinese suppliers.

Indian officials have asked Chinese authorities to speed up investigations and announce a verdict. With three weeks having passed after the hearing, an official said the “situation cannot go on forever.”

via The Hindu : News / International : Indian traders in Shanghai told to ‘honour’ their commitments.

Yiwu: Two Indians on hunger strike in China – Indian Express

Two Indians, who were freed from illegal custody of Chinese traders three months ago, today went on a hunger strike in Shanghai, demanding that they be allowed to go home within a week failing which they will commit suicide.

In the emails sent to the media on the eve of the BRICS summit in New Delhi attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao, Deepak Raheja and Shyam Sunder Agrawal threatened to commit suicide one after another if they were not sent back to India within a week.

They said from Shanghai over phone that they have been asked by the hotel where they are staying to vacate it last night due to non-payment of dues.

The Indian government which has been paying them maintenance allowance earlier has stopped it and they had no money to pay, they said.

“Right now we are on the roads and we have no money. We have no other option to resort to these extreme steps,” said Raheja, who is an Indian settled in Dubai.

The two, who claims to be the employees of trading firm in China’s trade hub Yiwu, were released from the illegal custody with the help of the Indian officials on January 4.

They were taken into custody last December by the Chinese traders after the owner of the firm fled along with his Indian associate without paying USD 1.5 million outstanding dues.

The duo were held in custody for about 15 days by the local traders. They were subsequently released after the Indian government intervention and kept in Shanghai as they were required to prove their claim that they were only employees not partners of the company.

Their travel documents have been seized by the Chinese court.

According to the Indian officials here, the Consulate in Shanghai has so far spent about 43,600 RMB (about USD 7000) on their maintenance and they have no authorisation to spend more.

Raheja said they received 4000 RMB few days ago but it was used to pay their hotel bills. He said they needed USD 128 per day for maintenance.

The two said they also have health problems.

Besides arranging legal help and spending on their maintenance including health check-ups, Indian officials here said their case has been taken up at various levels with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

As result their case has been shifted to a higher court, Jinhua where the two presented their case with evidence that they were employees and awaited the court verdict.

The Indian officials here say they have been taking up their case vigorously at various levels.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna, who met the two during his visit here last month, took up their plight with his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi during their talks here.

Krishna also raised the issue when the Chinese Minister visited New Delhi early this month.

Sources in the Indian Embassy here said that a senior Indian diplomat met a high level functionary of the Foreign Ministry here three days ago and asked the Chinese government to speed legal procedures to enable the two to go home.

“The issue is being constantly pursued by the embassy.

The Chinese officials maintain that the legal process is underway as their case was taken up by the court,” one Indian official told PTI.

They said they have urged the Chinese government to allow the duo to go home as they find it very difficult to stay here.

They could return whenever the court wants them, an official said.

The Indian Embassy here also put out an advisory highlighting the problems about trading at Yiwu, which is the world’s biggest commodity market.

The two wrote in their e-mail that the Indian government has spent Rs 205 crore on the foreign visits of President Pratibha Patil and why can’t they be provided with some maintenance allowance until their case is sorted out.