Harish Bandi and Bhaskar Reddy were taken to Addis Ababa after the firm assured the local employees of clearing their dues, The Times of India quoted C Chandra Sekhar, an official representing the firm and its subsidiary Elsamex SA in the negotiations for their release, as saying.
“As a result of collective and sustained engagement with various authorities, two of the seven employees have been allowed to move out of the camp and are now in Addis Ababa,” the firm said in a statement, The Indian Express reported.
Bandi and Reddy were held in Wolosio. Another employee Neeraj Raghuwanshi is the only Indian hostage in the Nekemte Bure Lot 1 camp. Sekhar is leading discussions with the local community to release Raghuwanshi and four others. Unidentified officials said Bandi was released because he complained of uneasiness. “Harish is now doing fine and he is with us in Addis Ababa,” Sekhar said.
The firm has sought the Centre’s approval to remit the funds to clear the unpaid dues overseas, reports said.
On Thursday, an unidentified official at the Indian Embassy in Addis Ababa said it was “closely following up with local Ethiopian authorities and IL&FS management to resolve the issue”. An official in the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed that they were looking into the matter.
IL&FS and its subsidiaries have a combined debt of more than Rs 91,000 crore and have defaulted on multiple loan repayments in the last couple of months. In the letter to the to the Indian and Spanish ambassadors, the detained employees had purportedly said, “Concerns of project termination and absence of senior management from project camps might have triggered panic in local employees and led them to believe confining expat employees might force the organisation to pay their salaries.”
In October, the Centre was allowed to take control of the firms operations after it defaulted on its debt payments posing a risk to the country’s financial system.