Indian farm worker dies in Italy without medical help after arm severed by machine


PTI, Jun 21, 2024, 12:24 PM IST

London/Rome: A 31-year-old Indian casual worker in Italy has died tragically after he was dumped on the road without medical assistance by his employer after his arm was severed by heavy farm machinery.

Satnam Singh was injured by heavy machinery while working in a vegetable field in Lazio, near Rome, on Monday.

The Embassy of India in Rome posted on Wednesday on X that it was aware of the very unfortunate demise of an Indian national in Latina, Italy.

“We are in contact with local authorities. Efforts are underway to contact the family and provide consular assistance,” it wrote without giving more information. Singh reportedly hailed from Punjab.

According to Italian media, Singh’s employer, Antonello Lovato, loaded him and his wife into a van and left them by the side of the road near their home.

“We heard his wife’s screams who kept calling for help, then we saw a lad who was holding him in his arms and who carried him into the house,” ANSA news agency quoted Ilario Pepe, the owner of the house, as saying.

“We thought he was helping him, but then he ran away.

“I ran after him,” said Pepe, “and I saw him get into a van and I asked him what had happened and why he hadn’t taken him to hospital.

“He replied ‘he’s not on the books as a regular employee”.

The severed arm was placed in a fruit box.

Medical help did not reach Singh until an hour and a half later. He was airlifted to a hospital in Rome but died on Wednesday.

Lovato is now under investigation for criminal negligence and manslaughter.

Lovato’s father told Italian media: “My son had told [Singh] not to go near the machinery, but he didn’t listen.” “It was sheer carelessness, unfortunately”, said Renzo Lovato, speaking to the TG1 first channel news.

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called Singh’s death an “inhuman act” and a “barbarism” that must be “harshly punished”.

Italy’s Minister of Labour, Marina Calderone, said the death of Singh had been an “act of barbarity”.

Opposition 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Giuseppe Conte on Thursday urged Meloni to act to stamp out brutal gangmastering.

“You lose your arm while you’re working in the fields for four euros an hour. You’re not immediately treated. They put you in a van and they dump you like rubbish outside your home,” Conte wrote on X.

“Beside you, a strawberry basket in which your severed arm is left. You bleed out and die. It sounds like the story of a slave centuries ago. We can’t close our eyes, we can’t think about making profits while cancelling the dignity of work and the last shreds of humanity,” he wrote.

If people ignore these atrocities, they will stop defending Italy and its values, he said.

“We are ready to do our bit in parliament against these barbarities, which must be rooted out of the fields all over Italy, he added.

Gangmastering and the often violent exploitation of migrant farm labourers is a chronic problem in Italy, especially in the south.

Latina hosts thousands of immigrant labourers, many of them Sikhs, working picking fruit and vegetables for the local ‘agro-mafia’.

Singh died in a Rome hospital Wednesday after being airlifted there when he was eventually found.

The owner of the fruit and vegetable picking firm, and Satnam’s employer, Antonello Lovato, may face gangmastering and manslaughter charges, Ansa quoted Latina police as saying.

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