NRI working in Dubai
NRI working in Dubai

Centre committed to assist distressed Indian Diaspora

ANI | Updated: May 08, 2018 11:51 IST

New Delhi [India], May 8 (ANI): Providing assistance to distressed Indians abroad has been one of the priority areas of the NDA Government since it came to power in 2014.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has personally been involved in trying to resolve some of these cases related to Indians living abroad.
In the last three years, there have been several instances of people approaching New Delhi for help for restoration of rights and an end to acts of harassment, domestic abuse, discrimination and fraud.
Last Saturday, Swaraj, taking part in a panel discussion on the theme 'Indian Community Organisations Working for Indian Nationals in Distressed Situation', highlighted her efforts to give relief to distressed Indian Diaspora living abroad.
She said, "The Indian embassy is a home away from home. I tell this to all embassies that 'make a standard image for yourselves that you can come to. Open House, where ever you want. The first thing an NRI should see is "Pardesh mera dost, Bharitya dootavas" (My Friend in a Foreign Land is the Indian Embassy).
"Previously, when distressed people used to approach ambassadors, they used to be sent back -- that how can a downtrodden person come (even) to the embassy, this place is meant for those who wear ties. And today, they say that at least one person comes to them so they can tweet about them that they did his or her work. Such a big change has come. Now, the situation is that I do not have to say anything. All embassies have become so vigilant. I appreciate people on my twitter account who do good work," said Swaraj.
One need not go back to 2014-15 to see this welcome humanitarian change in approach towards dealing with the Indian Diaspora. Just between January and May 2018, there have been so many cases, most of them relating to the Gulf region. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is being viewed as a savior by the Diaspora for all kinds of emergencies.
Former NRI businessman, Panikkaveettil K. Jabir, who hails from Kochi, Kerala, could be the latest victim of harassment on foreign shores, and whose case is under consideration of the Indian Government for redressal of alleged grievances, including what he calls his illegal deportation to Kerala by the U.A.E. Government after residing in that country for nearly two decades.
He says he has been in regular communication with the Ministry of External Affairs and the Embassy of the New Delhi since 2013.
It appears to be a story of a self-made millionaire investor of Indian origin, who, according to him, has almost turned penniless after facing what he claims is prolonged abuse at the hands of 'connected' locals and police personnel in Abu Dhabi.
Mr. Jabir said that on April 2 this year, Mr. Bimal Saigal, Consultant (Gulf) with the Ministry of External Affairs forwarded a letter to him informing him that the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi can take up "your grievance letter" with the concerned U.A.E authorities through diplomatic channels provided "the name, the details of the accused and a copy of the judgments" are provided.
According to the letter in Mr. Jabir's possession, Mr. Saigal further said, ".. The necessary details may be forwarded directly to Shri Dinesh Kumar, First Secretary (CA, E & C) in the Embassy of India, Abu Dhabi, by e-mail at address and under intimidation to this ministry."
Mr. Jabir said that he has since forwarded a letter on April 12 addressed to Mr. Kumar in which he has reiterated that he was deported to Kochi, Kerala, that too, "when he was under investor status in the U.A.E with a group of business entities.."
He said that since his deportation, he has been experiencing both "mental strain and physical trauma" and appealed to the MEA to resolve his case at the earliest.
This is not an isolated incident.
On April 6, a woman hailing from Hyderabad, who was allegedly trafficked to Dubai and Oman, was rescued by the Indian Embassy in Muscat following the intervention of Swaraj.
Recalling her miserable existence before being rescued, the victim said she was hoodwinked by agents and taken to Dubai and Oman on the promise of being provided a job. She said she faced torture and harassment from her agents and employers.
"I was finally rescued and I would like to thank EAM (External Affairs Minister) Sushma Swaraj and (the) Indian Embassy," said the victim.
In another case, the daughter of a Hyderabad woman, trafficked by her employer from Dubai to Muscat, said last month, "I request MEA Sushma Swaraj, the Indian embassy and Government of Telangana to rescue my mother."
She said her mother has not been able to return to Hyderabad since October last year. "My mother, fed up with the harassment and torture, ran away from her employers and stayed in a church in Muscat. On January 4, she managed to approach the Indian embassy, but is stuck there as her passport is with her employer."
Another rescued victim is Reshma, who told ANI recently that she and her daughter Niloufer Shaik were sent to Dubai on the pretext of a good job by an agent, but were separated after reaching. Reshma was sent to Oman and she does not know where her daughter is.
"We left for Dubai on 28 December 2017. The agent said our salary would be Rs 20,000 per month and after landing there, they took us to an office and kept us there. Later, they took away my daughter for work and since then, I have no contact with her. They kept me for ten days there and shifted me to Oman and they made me work in three houses at a time," Reshma said.
Now rescued, she has thanked Swaraj for the assistance provided by the Indian embassy and now is requesting the minister to rescue her daughter as well.
Two Indian women, who used to work as housemaids in Saudi Arabia, faced similar situation of torment inflicted by their employers. They said they were subject to sexual abuse and torture, and claim hundreds of women currently live in similar circumstances.
She and her husband were hoaxed by an agent in Mumbai, who promised to provide a job for them in Riyadh, but offered a different one in the Saudi city of Dammam.
She was separated from her husband right after landing in Saudi Arabia and held captive, tortured, and harassed on a daily basis. Her struggle to gain back her freedom lasted several years.
As per 2015-16 data, India has an estimated 25 million-strong overseas Indian community. Under the NDA regime, issues related to them are taken care of by both the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. They have put in place institutional frameworks that ensure sustainable and mutually beneficial engagement with Indian Diaspora.
According to an annual report of the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, the Indian Diaspora comprises of People of Indian Origin (PIO) and Non-Resident Indians (NRIs). They are a heterogeneous and global community, representing diversity of forms, types, geographies and times of formation, and therefore, require diverse and distinct approaches to engage them and connect with India.
Swaraj said Saturday that she is in a happy space now, knowing that "there is a competition among ambassadors" to deliver relief to distressed Indians living abroad
"They (embassies) say that we wish someone in distress should contact them so they could also say they also did something..I receive messages from embassies that they are undertaking steps required for the people, but It will take a very long time to rehabilitate Indians.. we have established contact with organisations in India, the work is in progress. To help those Indians who are stuck in various corners of the world has become my life's aim," said Swaraj on Saturday.
"We have sensitized the embassies. That these people have families and the support of the government," she added.
Since January 2016, the External Affairs Ministry has received 362 petitions by post and email related to NRI marriages of which 344 have been addressed, she said recently.
The minister said since the launch of her Ministry's grievance redressal portal 'MADAD' on February 2015, as many as 246 grievances under "marital dispute" category have been received of which 172 have been addressed. (ANI)