Dubai: Saudi Arabia has handed over about 15,000 passports of stranded Indian workers, surrendered by Saudi sponsors, to the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, in a bid to resolve cases of immigration law violations. "Most passports, surrendered by sponsors to the Saudi authorities, belong to stranded Indian workers, including those languishing in jails on huroob (absconding) charges or on charges of violation of Saudi residency laws," said Sibi George, deputy chief at the Indian mission said on Monday.
"The move will help to repatriate all those workers currently facing huroob charges, provided they have no civil or criminal case against them," George was quoted as saying by Arab News. This move will also help resolve the issue of 'huroob',that has landed many Indians in jails or prevented them from returning to India, said George. The embassy has uploaded a list of the passports on its website and said passports would be returned only to holders who will provide a photocopy of the document.
All cases against expats related violation of immigration laws are expected to be dropped once a new mechanism, called the Nitaqat law, comes into effect. The 'Nitaqat' law makes it mandatory for local firms to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers. Over two million Indians are currently working in Saudi Arabia. There has been widespread perception that the new policy will lead to denial of job opportunities for a large number of Indians working there.
A delegation led by Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi visited the Kingdom few weeks ago to raise concerns about the Nitaqat law. During the talks, both sides had agreed to set up a joint working group to address "all immediate problems" facing the Indians including issues related to overstaying workers.