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Caught in the complexities of visa renewal, the skilled labourers had turned illegal migrants due to expiry of their visa period and were forced to leave that country. The grace period for regularising their status ended on November 4, sources said.
The oil-rich country has undertaken a drive to deport illegal expatriates who had overstayed in Saudi Arabia after expiry of their working visas.
“The administration has received reports of return of migrant workers from Saudi Arabia. The matter is taken up with competent authorities to ascertain the number of workers from Kendrapara still left in Saudi Arabia without valid visa,” said Kendrapara Collector, Niranjan Nayak.
“After announcement to drive away illegal expatriates, I left the country with the help of Indian Embassy at Riyadh. Local government had offered the foreign workers an amnesty period for those who overstayed. I left Arabia with a temporary visa issued by Indian Embassy before the period expired,” said Seikh Abdul Sayeed (29) of Haladia village in Kendrapada district.
“Saudi Law and its enforcement are extremely stringent, so I took no chances. As far as I know, there are nearly 1000 workers from Kendrapara district who are still overstaying in Arabia. They would definitely be hounded out of that country”, Sayeed said.
Sayeed, who worked as a cook in a restaurant at Hara near Saudi capital Riyadh and earned about Rs 40,000 as per Indian currency, had overstayed as his visa had expired.
There were two other Indians from Hyderabad and a Bangladeshi citizen in the restaurant where Sayeed was working, who had left as they had no valid visa for legitimate stay.
Stating that he was virtually living in captivity in the restaurant rooms, he said moving outdoors was a risky proposition in the absence of a valid visa.
“I am grateful to my Saudi employer who talked to the embassy people for my safe return to my country,” he said, adding thousands of workers from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other countries had already fled that country.
Those who have managed to safely return to Kendrapara district included Omar Beig , Nasir Beig of village Kanipada, Muktar Khan of Haladia, Sk. Hira of Dilarpur, Ramesh Jena of Patrapur, Sambhunath Nayak of Bilikana villages, he said.
The Saudi crackdown on illegal immigrants has sealed the fate of large numbers of plumbers and other workers from Kendrapada district and nearby areas who were eking out their livelihood in Saudi Arabia, locals said.