New Delhi (Sputnik): A heart-wrenching tale about the inhumane treatment of a group of Indian artisans hired by a Hindu temple in Canada has generated immense concern among rights activists. Activists in India say that such "rare artisans" are ambassadors of Indian traditions and the Indian government should intervene and ensure just treatment.
"The mistreatment of Indian labors abroad has occurred not just one but many times. The solution lies in strict regulations; the entities hiring such labor in India must fulfill government norms to be entitled to hire people from India," Rahul Easwar, a social activist and human rights advocate, told Sputnik.
Rahul works closely with issues related Indian Hindu traditions and is the grandson the chief priest of the famous Sabarimala temple in South India.
"We were so hungry. It was unbearable. After being hungry, we would get light-headed," Sekar Kurusamy and Suthakar Masilamani, two of the victims, told the CBC.
Frustrated by the maltreatment meted out to them by the Temple's management, including Chief Priest Kanaswami Thiagarajahkurukkal, four laborers approached the Tamil workers' network in Canada for legal help. They told CBC that despite working on 20 meter-high scaffolding, they had no safety gear other than helmets and boots.
"By day, we sculpted and painted one of the holiest parts of the temple; by night we would languish in the basement of the building, sleeping on cots by the boiler," the laborers told CBC.
"There are no listings or data about the rare artisans of Hindu Temples in India. These master craftsmen are in demand all over the world but we have somehow failed to protect their interests and rights," Rahul Easwar added.
Meanwhile, the Sridurka Hindu Temple management has denied the allegations.
"Over the past five years, our religious sculptor workers have never expressed concerns or made any complaints to us regarding their living conditions. Our employee satisfaction survey in the past years indicates that sculptor workers are satisfied with the wages, working environment and residence facilities," the temple management told CBC in a statement.