New Delhi: Family members of some Indian workers who are in jail in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to seek the government`s intervention in securing their release from the Middle-Eastern country.
Forty labourers from India were jailed following a dispute with their employer over the death of a colleague of theirs due to electrocution. The Indian labourers, who were working for a construction firm in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, have been in jail for a year.
JD(U) MP Ali Anwar Ansari led the group which met Swaraj today with the minister assuring them of "justice" and saying she would take up the matter.
Although the accused were sentenced to jail for periods ranging from two to five months, a Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson said that they continue to remain behind bars as "their employer had appealed that apart from the punishment, he should also be entitled to compensation for the destruction of his property".
According to officials, Saudi Arabia has fairly tough regulations in these matters.
"So, while they have completed their (jail) terms, there are issues related to compensation," the spokesperson said.
But he added that the Indian Mission in Saudi Arabia is in talks with the employer to persuade him to drop the compensation claim against the Indian workers to enable them to come back.
"At this stage, the matter remains sub-judice (and) the employer remains adamant. At the Mission, we are trying to see if we can get him to waive the condition that compensation should be paid to him for the destruction caused to his establishment," the spokesperson said.
For his part, JD(U) MP Ansari said, "This is a serious case of human rights violation and against natural justice. The government must act swiftly for their (workers`) quick release."
The labourers hail from different states of India.