NRI panel seeks action on Punjabis' killings in Philippines

Chandigarh, Aug 26 : Following media reports of a spate of killings of Punjabis based in Philippines, the Punjab Non-Resident Indian (NRI) commission has directed the state government to act fast in this matter and take it up with the external affairs ministry for necessary action.

The commission directed the Punjab government to set up a three-member high-level committee to monitor the murders of Indian Punjabis in the Philippines. The Punjab government has been asked to submit a report in this regard by Sep 5.

Taking cognizance of media reports recently that nearly 500 Punjabis were murdered in the Philippines last year (2012) and more killings have happened this year also, the NRI commission asked the state government to coordinate with the external affairs and Overseas Indian affairs ministries for the welfare and safety of Punjabi NRIs.

The order was also sent to both ministries for necessary action at their end, a spokesman of the commission said Monday.

Punjabis settled in the Philippines are mainly in the money-lending business and are killed after those availing loans are unable to repay that. In recent days, at least six killings of Punjabis have been reported.

Terming the situation as "grim and alarming", the commission noted that Punjabis settled there were not only becoming targets of contract killings but were also helpless in pursuing their cases in courts.

"The situation is grim and alarming. It seems there is no one to fight for their cause, no legal aid has been provided to those settled in Philippines to fight for their rights and there is no law for safety and security of the Indians working in the Philippines. There is nobody to help them," said an order of the commission, headed by Justice (retd) Arvind Kumar.

"In the case of Sikh farmers of Kutch area (Gujarat), the Punjab government is supporting their cause. NRI Affairs is the priority of the Punjab government. This commission also expects Punjab government to extend help and support to Punjabis, who have settled in the Philippines," said the commission.

The commission directed the Punjab government to "act fast" and to constitute a three member committee, including a senior police officer, to monitor the cause of such murders and to extend support, through concerned ministries and the embassy of India in Philippines, to those being targeted, the spokesman said.

The commission said that the committee should even visit the Philippines, if need be, to look into the matter and interact with the Punjab community there.

--IANS (Posted on 27-08-2013)

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