DEATH OF INDIAN FARM WORKER IN ITALY SPARKS OUTRAGE

The death of an Indian migrant worker in Italy, who was reportedly abandoned on a road after his arm was severed at work, has sparked outrage and prompted calls for a demonstration on Saturday in the town of Latina, in the country’s central Lazio region.

Satnam Singh, a 31-year-old farm worker, was left on the street Monday after losing his right arm while working at a farm near Latina, which is southeast of Rome, CNN’s affiliate SkyTG24 reported.

His arm was reportedly severed by a plastic wrapping machine on the farm. Singh died days later and has come to symbolize the plight of vulnerable migrant workers in the country, with several trade unions and Latina’s Indian community organizing demonstrations in the following days.

Italian state broadcaster RAI said Singh was hooked by the plastic wrapping machine, towed by a tractor, which severed his right arm and crushed his lower limbs.

Singh was then loaded into a van and abandoned near his home, while his severed arm was left in a vegetable collection box, RAI reported.

He died Wednesday at the San Camillo hospital in Rome.

An investigation into farm owner Antonello Lovato – who allegedly left the injured Singh outside his home after the incident – has now been opened over potential charges of manslaughter and failure to assist a person in danger, Reuters reported, citing lead prosecutor Giuseppe De Falco.

Singh did not have a regular contract or a residence permit, according to SkyTG24, and had been working at the same company for Italy for two years.

CNN has reached out to De Falco and to Lovato’s lawyers for comment, as well as to the Indian government.

Lovato’s father, Renzo Lovato told RAI that Singh had been warned “not to approach the vehicle” and that “there is sadness because a man died at work and it should never happen.

The family’s lawyer, Valerio Righi, told Reuters that Antonello Lovato “spontaneously went to the judicial police an hour after the events, as any decent person would do,” adding that his client was waiting for the charges to be formalized to defend himself.

Responding to allegations that Singh was abandoned without calls to an ambulance, Righi said, “You will see during the proceedings that maybe help was called sooner than people think.”

The farm worker’s death has shocked the country. Italy Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni expressed her condolences and strongly condemned Singh’s death at Thursday’s cabinet meeting.

“These are inhumane acts that do not belong to the Italian people, and I hope that this barbarism will be harshly punished,” she said in a statement.

‘Unprecedented brutality’

Trade unions met with the Italian Labor Minister Marina Elvira Calderone and Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida on Friday to discuss changes needed to prevent such events from happening again.

What happened to Satnam Singh is “much more than an injury: it is an inhuman act of barbarism in which those who abandoned him demonstrated that they had no regard for the value of human life,” Calderone said Thursday in an interview with RAI, calling for exemplary punishments against exploitation at work.

Several trade unions have organized a demonstration for Saturday in Latina and called for a two-hour strike to demand “dignity and respect for the health and safety of workers” and to urge political and social forces to combat worker exploitation and inhuman work conditions.

Trade unions have also organized a fundraiser to raise funds for Singh’s family, with some condemning Italy’s gangmastering system, which involves the illegal recruitment and exploitation of agricultural workers.

In a press release on Wednesday, trade union leader Maria Grazia Gabrielli called the incident one of “unprecedented brutality”. She said the incident was a result of “the irregularity in which we relegate thousands of migrants who arrive in our country in search of hope.”

She said migrants found themselves as “slaves of contemporary society, irregular, without a residence permit, and therefore more susceptible to blackmail by those who consider work only for profit, and rights - such as that of assistance - only as obstacles.”

Gabrielli added that exploitation in the fields often results in “starvation wages, unsafe and inhuman working rhythms and conditions, psychological and physical violence which unfortunately also lead to terrible events like the one in Latina.”

The Indian community of Latina will take to the streets on June 25  to take part in a demonstration in memory of Singh, and will deliver an open letter to the prefect of Latina, Maurizio Falco calling for action and denunciation of the incident, according to RAI.

According to a report from Italy’s biggest labor union, CGIL, and labor union FLAI, in 2021 there were approximately 230,000 irregular workers employed in the primary sector, which largely includes non-resident foreigners employed in agriculture.

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2024-06-22T00:38:36Z dg43tfdfdgfd