Jeddah: A group of NRI labourers, who protested against the proposed NRC in Saudi Arabia, were sent back home recently. A small group of NRIs, mainly from Bihar, held a protest holding placards in downtown Balad in Jeddah last year, and were arrested for violating rules that prohibit any kind of assembly or protest. Since then, they were in custody.
Besides them, some more NRIs employed in maintenance companies, who were arrested for begging at traffic signals, were also among hundreds of NRIs and lodged in various deportation centres in Saudi Arabia for the last few months, too were deported back home.
Unlike in the past when most NRIs hailed from southern parts of the country, there are many now hailing from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal who have been apprehended for various violations in general and visa and employment rules. The foreign workers who violate local laws are required to return home through deportation centres.
The deportation of Indians from jails and deportation centres is a routine and standard procedure. However, it was stalled following suspension of flights and Covid-19 protocol, quarantine costs by States and relevant issues in India that left scores of Indians languishing in these centres.
The process of deportation of stranded NRIs gathered momentum following efforts of Ambassador Dr Ausaf Saeed, backed by a battery of enthusiastic diplomatic corps in Jeddah and Riyadh. Sources said the Ministry of External Affairs took up the issue with various State governments besides government agencies in Saudi Arabia. The repatriation of inmates is a continuous process. However, the logjam has been cleared to a large extent, they said, adding that about 3,000 NRI workers were deported back to India.
Saudi Arabian Airlines has operated a total of 11 deportee flights so far to India. The cost of airfreight is borne by Saudi Arabian government. The deportee’s flights are different from regular and Mission Vande Bharat flights. Some of the deportees who landed in various Indian airports faced an uphill task reaching home, particularly those from the southern States. Those who landed in New Delhi reportedly were forced into begging for money for onward journey while others from Northern States who landed in south faced a similar plight.
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