Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Indian immigrant labour in Saudi Arabia: As Indian embassy turns a blind eye, hundreds of Indian workers languish in jails

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April 4: About 100 workers from the State, now lodged in a jail in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, have been allegedly denied food for the last three days.
According to information reaching here, the Saudi jail authorities have not been serving food to Indian prisoners, many of whom are from Andhra Pradesh. Most of the prisoners are poor and went to Saudi
Arabia for employment.
They left their employers, after being cheated both on salary and nature of work, and landed in jail as they were not in possession of their passports. The workers had deposited their passports with their employers. Since they had left employment before the end of the contract, their passports were withheld.
"The treatment in jail is inhuman. The food served is not sufficient. I have received information that the jail authorities have not been providing food since Saturday," said Urugonda Rajendra Prasad, who
returned to his native Sircilla after being released from the Jeddah jail on Thursday. Prasad was one of the three Indian prisoners recently released. The other two being Santosh Kumar Soni from Uttar Pradesh
and Dastagir from Kadapa.
Migrant labour rights activist P Narayana Swamy, who contacted some of the jail inmates on telephone, told this correspondent that about 730 Indians have been languishing in the Saudi jail after the Indian embassy
failed to come to their rescue.
Narayana Swamy released a list of 32 prisoners from Andhra Pradesh along with their passport numbers. "I have collected the names and passport numbers of another 40 prisoners from the State. When I contacted the Indian embassy I got a vague reply. Instead of addressing the problem of prisoners, a letter sent by Rajesh Swami, under secretary (Gulf) refers to some 70 Indians staying under a flyover in Jeddah," he said.
Rajendra Prasad said the jail has 18 barracks and Indians are put up with prisoners of other countries. "I could visit only five of them and could count about 100 Telugu prisoners. We borrowed heavily to pay for visa and tickets, but when we landed in Saudi Arabia we were subjected to humiliation. The pay package was not honoured. In jail a single plate of food is served for five prisoners," Prasad said.

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