56,700 Indians face deportation from Saudi Arabia: Khurshid
As many as 56,700 Indians face deportation from Saudi Arabia in the next one-and-half months and ten officials have been despatched to the kingdom to help the Indian mission prepare emergency certificates for their exit, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Thursday.
"As of now, 56,700 Indians have registered with the Indian mission for getting exit permits as they have no valid passports or other travel documents," Khurshid told a group of Urdu editors here.
He said he is leaving on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia to meet his counterpart Faisal Al Saud and other dignitaries and discuss various bilateral matters including problems of Indian workers due to the "Nitaqat" policy under which all companies are required to provide 10 percent of jobs to Saudi youth.
Khurshid said the 10 officials sent to the kingdom will help the mission to prepare no objection certificates for the Indian workers, adding it is a "cumbersome procedure as we are required to get details of the worker from the district authorities".
He said this time, more than 4,000 Indian volunteers are helping the mission to complete formalities, while the mission is working round the clock and has also set up offices in various Saudi cities to facilitate workers to fill up form for the emergency certificates.
The Saudi government has fixed July 6 as the deadline for all foreign illegal workers to leave the country.
Earlier, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sent Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, Minister of State for External Affairs E. Ahmed and his advisor T.K.A. Nair to the kingdom to sort out problems of Indians who are there either without work permits or valid passports.
The Saudi authorities have assured the Indian government that they will not harass Indian workers because of their good behaviour, and no one will be penalised or sent to jail for violations of these norms if they leave country before the deadline.
Khurshid said he is also going to take up issue of increase of Haj quota for Indian pilgrims with the Saudi authorities. At present, India sends more than 175,000 pilgrims every year.