NEW DELHI: India has despatched V K Singh and M J Abkar, the ministers of state in the external affairs ministry, to negotiate with Saudi and Kuwaiti authorities on behalf of 800 out-of-work Indians who have been pushed to the edge of starvation. It is noteworthy that 10000 Indian jobless workers stranded in Saudi and Kuwait
Over the past three days, the government has organised emergency rations for the Indian workers in distress+ at the Indian embassy in Riyadh and the consulate in Jeddah. The men, who have been left stranded after their employers abandoned them, are being kept in quasi-detention without being paid their dues.
The government responded after one of the men made an appeal through a video tweet to foreign minister Sushma Swaraj, describing their terrible conditions. Officials from the Indian consulate in Jeddah were sent to the al Shumaisi camp to distribute food to the Indian workers.
Officials said the men were working for a local company which shut down a few months ago. The workers were moved to the camp and were apparently paid for a while. But soon the Lebanese owners of the company disappeared leaving the workers marooned at the camp without money or income. The al-Shumaisi camp where the men are kept is a kind of detention centre and has been the focus of human rights activists.
Swaraj has deputed Singh+ to travel to Saudi Arabia to address issues of hundreds of Indian workers stranded in several “camps” in that country. She tweeted the Indian embassy would continue to serve food to the workers, adding she would be monitoring it hourly. “We have asked @IndianEmbRiyadh to provide free ration to the unemployed Indian workers in Saudi Arabia,” she tweeted.
“My colleagues @Gen_VKSingh will go to Saudi Arabia to sort out these matters and @MJakbar will take up with Kuwait and Saudi authorities. I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food,” she said.
The ministers have been tasked with finding a way out for the workers who are in a deep financial mess. Essentially, their salary arrears have to be logged as a legitimate claim with the company. The workers could have probably returned earlier but stayed on in the hope of getting some of their salary arrears from the company that has gone belly-up. “As a result our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are facing extreme hardship,” Swaraj said, adding that while the situation in Kuwait is “manageable”, matters are much “worse” in Saudi Arabia.
Apart from these 800 workers in al-Shumaisi camp, officials said there were over 3,000 Indian workers detained in other camps. The Indian government, they said would be able to bring them back at relatively low cost in the coming weeks. From August 5, India will be sending planeloads of haj pilgrims to Saudi Arabia and the aircraft usually return empty. The planes can be utilised to bring back the workers to India and to their families.