`Saudi taking steps in Indian workers` interest`
Jeddah: In a bid to allay India`s concerns over the controversial `Nitaqat` labour law, Saudi Arabia`s Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal on Saturday said "procedures" were being taken in the "best interest of Indian workers".
The Nitaqat law and the ongoing drive to identify workers who are overstaying in the Arab Kingdom was one of the main areas of focus during the talks held between External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and his Saudi counterpart.
Besides the controversial law, the two leaders discussed a wide range of regional, international and bilateral issues including energy security, enhanced counter-terrorism cooperation, and the situation in Syria and Iran.
"We discussed...The procedures taken are in the best interest of the Indian workers," Faisal said in a joint press conference after his talks with Khurshid.
Explaining further, he said, "Any worker who does not have papers, will be at the mercy of those who brought him here".
Khurshid, on his part said, "Difficulties that may have risen would have to be addressed and they are being addressed very satisfactorily."
Under the Saudi rules, a person will have to find a sponsor here before an Indian or any other foreigner works here.
Faisal said people now have the opportunity to find a new job legally. "As far as those who couldn`t find new jobs, they will have to go back and there won`t be any procedures (punitive action)," he said.
The `Nitaqat` law makes it mandatory for local companies to hire one Saudi national for every 10 migrant workers.
As a result of this law, a number of people who were working without valid work permits and runaways have come under the scanner.
Once the three-month grace period ends on July 3, all those expatriates who are found in Saudi Arabia without valid papers will be jailed and heavily penalised.
As of May 20, 75,000 Indians have registered with the Indian Embassy in Riyadh and the Consulate in Jeddah to be processed and be send back with `emergency certificate`. There are over two million Indians in Saudi Arabia.
According to official figures, off the total processed applications of 56,734, there are 21,331 people from Uttar Pradesh as against 3,610 from Kerala.
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