The first batch of 26 Indian workers, who lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia, arrived here on Thursday after the country issued them exit visas.

During the visit of Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh to the Gulf nation last week, Saudi Arabia had agreed to swiftly resolve the plight of thousands of laid-off Indian workers, including providing them free passage to return to India.

“Mr. Singh has had very productive meetings with the Labour Minister and other senior Ministers during his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As a result of these meetings, the process of lodging claims and for those wishing to come back to India has already started,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said.

‘Magnanimous view’

He said India appreciated the “magnanimous view” taken by the Saudi Arabian Government of granting exit visas expeditiously and agreeing to bear the expenses for the travel of the workers.

Saudi Arabia has also set up a crisis management group to address the difficulties being faced by the jobless Indian workers while a separate panel has been appointed to look into their claims on unpaid wages.

Saudi rules restrict foreign workers to leave the country without a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from employers.

Localised problem

“The swift action to tackle a localised problem specific only to some companies of Saudi Arabia signifies the deep and abiding relationship that our two countries share. We are confident that this will alleviate the problems faced by workers of all nationalities,” said the MEA spokesperson.

The spokesperson referred to the difficulties of retrenched workers of Saudi Oger limited and said the first batch of 26 Indian workers were issued exit visas. The workers came by a flight from Jeddah.

“From here, respective State governments will make arrangements for their travel to their hometowns,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson said.

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