Sushma directs for safe return of Indian workers held captive in Saudi Arabia

Sushma Swaraj, Indian Minister of External Affairs.
Sushma Swaraj, Indian Minister of External Affairs. Photo courtesy:

Perturbed over the condition of 24 workers from India, including 12 from Odisha allegedly held captive in Saudi Arabia by a company, Indian Minister of External Affairs (MEA) Sushma Swaraj has directed the Indian embassy in that country to facilitate their return.

The Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia assured the minister that it is cognizant of the issue and is pursuing their repatriation back to the country soon with the company and their agent.

The MEA sprung into action when Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik raised the matter with Swaraj and sought her intervention for the safe return of the Odishi labourers. He tweeted, “Deeply concerned about Odia workers held captive in Saudi Arabia; Request @SushmaSwaraj ji @PMOIndia to intervene for their safe return.”

Sushma Swaraj asked the Indian embassy in Riyadh to inform the Chief Minister about the development in ensuring their repatriation.

According to reports, at least 12 labourers from various blocks of Ganjam district of Odisha had arrived in Saudi Arabia five months ago through an agent from Andhra Pradesh to work in Al Riyadh Construction Company.

In addition to this, eight workers from Andhra Pradesh and four workers from Tamil Nadu were also taken to Saudi Arabia for working as plumbers. However, their passports were seized after two months of payment and they were allegedly exploited and received death threats.

The workers sent WhatsApp videos narrating their ordeal to their family members. They sought the help of the government for their safe return to India.

Meanwhile, the Ganjam district administration has launched a probe to gather information on the trapped labourers.