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What is the Narendra Modi-government doing for the 1400 Indians lodged in Saudi Arabian jails?

Monday, 28 July 2014 - 6:03am IST | Place: New Delhi | Agency: dna

When an Indian dies in a Pakistani jail, it draws a high-decibel protest. But successive governments have not given any thought to the plight of those Indians in other foreign jails.

Which country has the maximum Indian prisoners?
There are about 5,986 Indians in foreign jails. Saudi Arabia accounts for the highest (1,400), followed by the United Arab Emirates (985). In Pakistani jails, there are 468. Over the past three years, 11 Indians have died in Saudi custody. Saudi has also declared many Indians as absconders.

Why is Saudi Arabia a concern?
Every day, almost 1,000 Indian low-wage workers are provided emigration clearance to Saudi Arabia. Under Saudi law, prisoners hardly get even the mandatory counsellor access. Similarly, when prisoners die, no autopsies are conducted. Autopsy to ascertain the cause of custodial deaths is a mandatory international practice.

What's Alfred Jose's story?
Keralite Alfred Jose, who has been a construction worker in Dammam
for 15 years, was employed by a construction firm in 2013. He was not paid for eight months and was beaten up and repeatedly locked up by his sponsor and manager. "It has been two months. They (the Indian embassy and Alfred) have spoken on the phone five or six times, but no assurance of safety or help is being given by the Indian embassy," said his family.

What's the Indian government doing?
Though the Indian low-wage earners remit Rs 500 billion home every year, there is hardly any enthusiasm to streamline their recruitment process or to attend to their woes. Recently, the government secured the release of 40 prisoners who were languishing in Saudi jails even after completing their terms. But the fate of other prisoners are not known.

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