About 24 Indian workers stranded in Saudi Arabia have now requested help from the Indian government to return home, according to a media report.
The workers – including 10 from the state of Andhra Pradesh, 10 from Odisha and four from Telangana state have sent a message to Indian officials claiming that they were duped by an agent.
The company where they work has now forced them to work in “hazardous conditions”, daily Times of India reported.
In a message sent to Telangana NRI affairs minister K T Rama Rao, the workers pleaded for help, saying: “We have no food to eat. We are living on the roads. We have also been beaten up by the company which is forcing us to do risky jobs.”
According to the report, the workers were sent to Riyadh in October 2016 by an agent. However, after landing in the Saudi capital, they alleged that they were made to work for a different company which did not provide safety gear at the construction site.
The workers were not provided food or an Iqama (identity) card to legalise their status and their passports were also reportedly seized by the employer.
The workers claimed that they tried to return to India during Saudi’s three-month amnesty period which began this year. However, their employer reportedly created Iqamas in the last minute, making it impossible for the workers to leave the kingdom. They have also been asked to report back to the company by the Indian embassy in Riyadh at the risk of being imprisoned.
The Indian minister has asked for their contact details to reach out to them, Times of India reported.
At least one million migrant workers – including an estimated 20,000 Indians – are expected to leave Saudi Arabia under its amnesty campaign, which began on March 29.
The 90-day campaign allows those overstaying in Saudi without the right visas and documents to leave the country without facing fines or penalties for violating the rules.
Those leaving under amnesty are also exempt from the ‘exit fingerprint’ requirement, and can return to the kingdom at a later date legally.