Saudi to give exit visas to stranded Indian workers

Saudi to give exit visas to stranded Indian workers

NEW DELHI: Saudi Arabia has agreed to give exit visas to hundreds of jobless Indian workers stranded there in camps and send them back to their homes in India at its own expense, the government told the Lok Sabha here on Thursday.

Making a suo motu statement in Parliament, Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj told members about India’s diplomatic victory and said Saudi Arabia had also agreed to provide free medical facility and food to the Indian workers stranded in the camps.

“The government of India will not have to spend a penny on that (return of Indians). They (Saudi Arabia) have also agreed to help those eligible for employment and are willing to work with some other companies,” the Union minister said in the Lok Sabha.

Besides, the Saudi government also assured that the unpaid salaries of the Indian workers will be given before they leave. For this, workers will be registering their claims and other dues with the labour office of Saudi Arabia before departing, she added.

The minister, who also made a statement in the Rajya Sabha to apprise the members regarding the developments, said her deputy and Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh has been camping in Saudi Arabia since Tuesday evening and will return only after formalising the arrangements for Indian workers.

The Indian Embassy in Riyadh will follow up with the labour office of Saudi Arabia to get all the dues of the workers cleared, she added.

In the Rajya Sabha, Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad complimented the Indian and the Saudi governments for reaching a solution on the issue.

“I am happy to inform the House that the Saudi ruler has taken note of the plight of the Indian workers. The Saudi king has instructed his officials to resolve the issue in two days. The matter has been satisfactorily resolved,” Sushma said.

She also thanked the Saudi king and his government for their efforts, attributing India’s diplomatic success to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“I want to thank our prime minister also. It is the result of the prime minister’s efforts in building strong personal ties with the Saudi king and also between the two countries during his recent visit to the Islamic nation,” she said.

Number of Keralites in camps unknown

Even as Kerala’s Minister for Local Self Government K T Jaleel prepares for a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia to address concerns of Keralite workers rendered jobless in the Kingdom, officials in charge of the rehabilitation process said they were still receiving “unconfirmed” information about the crisis, DHNS reports from Thiruvananthapuram.

The minister told reporters on Thursday that he will meet workers from Kerala housed in the labour camps.

More than a week after the labour unrest unfolded, there is still no confirmation on the number of Keralites in the camps.vv

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