Trader duo left in the cold in China

Exactly a year after news of Mumbai trader Shyamsunder Agrawal and his colleague Deepak Raheja of Hyderabad being held captive by traders in China broke, they are still stranded in China waging a lonely court battle.

Both had been sleeping on the streets in the intense cold, landing Raheja in hospital last week. Agrawal is spending his days in the hospital lobby. They have no money or anyone to help them. Agrawal said they had not received any monetary help from the Indian government. Even their lawyer has refused to take their case forward unless the fee is paid.

On December 14, 2011, Agrawal and Raheja who were employed by Euro Global Trading were taken hostage by angry Chinese traders. Their employer had fled China, leaving dues running into millions of Yuan to be paid to local traders.

The Chinese traders kept Agrawal and Raheja captive in a warehouse in Yiwu city and allegedly assaulting them every day till the Indian government intervened.

It was during the negotiations to get them released that Indian diplomat S Balachandran was attacked by Chinese traders on the premises of a Chinese court on December 31 last year. He had to be hospitalised. Agrawal and Raheja were rescued from the traders' captivity days later, but after that they have been fending for themselves.

Agrawal and Raheja moved to Guangzhou around 200 km from Hong Kong where they work as daily wage labourers. They are unable to leave China with the case pending but Raheja was allowed to visit India for a month for his father's funeral.

"We had to sleep on the streets and the cold is increasing by the day. Raheja could not take it and collapsed earlier this week. I had to rush him to a Red Cross hospital in Guangzhou. I have since then been staying in the hospital lobby. Food is a luxury available only when strangers take pity on me and offer me whatever they feel like," Agrawal said on phone.

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