Kerala sends farmers' delegation to Israel, 1 delegate absconds

Kerala sends farmers' delegation to Israel, 1 delegate absconds

The other members of the delegation said that the farmer absconded from the group to illegally settle in Israel

A farmer from Kerala, Biju Kurian, who was reported to be missing from a 27-member delegation that visited Israel to study new farming techniques, has contacted his family in Kannur district on Sunday, his family members said, even as the Israel police have started an intense search for him.

The 48-year-old farmer had reached Israel four days ago as part of the delegation led by the state’s agriculture secretary B Ashok, and he went missing from a hotel in Israel’s Herzliya city on Friday.

The agriculture secretary informed the Indian Embassy later and a complaint was registered with the Herzliya police in Israel.

The other delegation members said Kurian’s visa is valid till May 8 and added that he absconded from the group to “illegally settle” in the country.

The family members on Sunday said Kurian has called his wife saying that he is safe in Israel. He has also asked the family not to look for him, they added.

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Meanwhile, the Kerala government has started an inquiry how he had got into the delegation. “It should not have happened. It invited enough embarrassment to the government,” said agriculture minister P Prasad.

The high-profile tour had courted controversy when it was planned a couple of months ago, as it invited criticism from some quarters citing the state’s financial crisis. Later, agriculture minister P Prasad was denied permission by his party, the Communist Party of India (CPI), and agriculture secretary B Ashok was made the head of the delegation. The government then directed farmers to bear their expenses.

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