Officials assures safety of 13 Indians stranded in Saudi Arabia
One of 14 Indians stranded in Saudi Arabia has returned safely whereas the rest 13, including 12 residents of Himachal Pradesh, are safe, a government official said Tuesday.
The state government said it was informed by the Centre that the Indian Embassy in Riyadh was making all efforts to get them released at the earliest.
The 14 people are stranded in Saudi Arabia with most of them, including residents of Himachal Pradesh, in the Middle East nation's jails after two local travel agents allegedly sent them to work there on tourist visas, police had said.
Of the 14 people, 12 belong to Himachal's Mandi district and two are from Punjab. Twelve are lodged in jails in Saudi Arabia. They are stranded as their tourist visas have expired and they do not have work visas, they said.
Onkar Chand, a resident of Punjab, has already been deported to India. Two citizens namely Tanuj Kumar and Devender Kumar, who belong to Himachal's Mandi district have been released by their sponsor, a state government official said.
A senior embassy official spoke to these people and counselled them. Later, the embassy official also met the remaining Indians on December 2 and confirmed that all were fine.
The official said the Indian Embassy in Riyad met officials concerned of the Deportation Center, seeking early repatriation of the stranded Indians.
The embassy has informed that it seems all the citizens came illegally to Saudi Arabia in violation of the extant norms. The embassy has assured that it would continue to extend all possible help and follow up for their safe repatriation to India, he added.
A few days ago, Himachal Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur had requested Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to personally take up the matter with Saudi Arabia authorities.
Two travel agents Mohammad Asif and Qadir of Mandi district were booked a few days ago for cheating and sending these youths to Saudi Arabia on tourist visa instead of promised work visa.
They were charged under Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Police said the travel agents had promised the now stranded people of acquiring work visas and allegedly cheated them of Rs 90,000 each.
"The travel agents were charged on the basis of a complaint lodged by a Sundernagar resident Saroj whose husband Harjinder Singh is one of the fourteen people," Mandi Superintendent of Police Gurdev Sharma said.
"Though an FIR against the two travel agents was registered but neither of them has been arrested so far as the matter is under investigation," the officer said.
(With inputs from agencies.)