An Indian farmer in Italy died after he was allegedly left on the side of the road after an accident in which his arm was severed and his legs crushed.

Satnam Singh was injured by heavy machinery while working in a vegetable field in Latina, a rural area close to Rome with a large community of Indian immigrant labourers.

It was reported that his employer, Antonello Lovato, loaded him and his wife into a van and left them by the side of the road near their home.

The severed arm was placed in a fruit box.

Medical help did not reach Satnam until an hour and a half later. He was airlifted to a hospital in Rome but died on June 19, 2024.

Lovato is now under investigation for criminal negligence and manslaughter.

His father said: “My son had told [Satnam Singh] not to go near the machinery, but he didn’t listen.”

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

Laura Hardeep Kaur, general secretary of the Frosinone-Latina unit of the Flai Cgil union, said:

“Adding to the horror of the accident is the fact that, instead of being rescued, the Indian farm worker was dumped near his home

“He was left on the road like a bag of rags, like a sack of rubbish… despite his wife begging [the employer] to take him to hospital.

“Here we are not only faced with a serious workplace accident, which in itself is already alarming, we are faced with barbaric exploitation. Enough now.”

She said Satnam was working for €5 (£4.22) an hour without a legal work contract.

She added: “Foreign labourers continue to be invisible, at the mercy of ferocious bosses, often Italian.”

The Indian embassy in Italy said it was “deeply saddened by the unfortunate demise of an Indian national” and added it was “actively liaising with local authorities”.

Satnam worked in an area that is home to large agricultural farms and a substantial Punjabi and Sikh population, many of whom work as farmhands.

Undocumented labourers across Italy are often subject to a system known as “caporalato” – a gangmaster system which sees middlemen illegally hire labourers who are then forced to work for very low salaries.

Even workers with regular papers are often paid well below the legal wage.

Almost 25% of the agricultural workforce in Italy in 2018 was employed under this method, according to a study by the Italian National Institute of Statistics.

The practice also affects workers in the service industry and building sectors.

The exploitation of farmhands – Italian and migrant – in Italy is a well-known issue.

Thousands of people work in fields, vineyards and greenhouses around the country, often without contracts and in highly dangerous conditions.

Workers often have to pay their employers for the cost of transportation to and from remote fields. Many live in isolated shacks or shanty towns and typically have no access to schools or medical care.

The practice of caporalato was outlawed in 2016 following the death of an Italian woman who died of a heart attack after working 12-hour shifts picking and sorting grapes, for which she was paid €27 (£23) a day.

However, the exploitation of agricultural workers has proven difficult to eliminate entirely.