External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj said on Saturday she has directed the embassy in Riyadh to provide free ration to unemployed Indian workers who “are facing extreme hardship” in Saudi Arabia.
“Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages, closed down their factories,” Swaraj tweeted.
“My colleagues @Gen_VKSingh will go to Saudi Arabia to sort out these matters and @MJakbar will take up (the matter) with Kuwait and Saudi authorities (sic),” she added.
Swaraj’s response came after a tweet by a man who said around 800 Indian workers were starving for the last three days in Jeddah.
In March, New Delhi had taken up the case of an Indian driver who was detained twice in Saudi Arabia after he made an emotional appeal for help, citing ill-treatment by his employer.
His plight rekindled memories of an Indian maid who was allegedly tortured and one of her hands cut off by her Saudi employer last year. The maid was repatriated to India but not before the issue almost sparked a diplomatic row between the two countries.
Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Indian passport holders outside India, most of them are employed as blue collar workers. The oil-rich country is often criticised for human rights violations and difficult working conditions for migrant workers, a charge its government denies.
“I assure you that no Indian worker rendered unemployed in Saudi Arabia will go without food. I am monitoring this on hourly basis… While situation in Kuwait is manageable, matters are much worse in Saudi Arabia,” Swaraj tweeted on Saturday.
Swaraj later posted pictures of food being provided to the Indian workers.