Saudi Arabia’s ambassador responds to HT analysis on migrants

  • Saud Al Sati, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Nov 16, 2015 19:01 IST
Malliga, sister, and Mohan, son of Kasthuri Munirathinam, display Kasthuri’s photograph in Chennai. Kasthuri was allegedly maimed by her employer in Saudi Arabia. (AP)

The Editor, Hindustan Times,

Dear Sir,

This is in reference to your editorial “Push Riyadh for change: India should do more to protect people who go to Saudi Arabia for work ” (November 6), portraying in a mala fide manner a negative and untrue image of Saudi Arabia and the condition of Indian workers in the Kingdom.

I would like to express my displeasure at your editorial piece and the way it has sought to create a wrong picture of the country in the eyes of your esteemed readership on the basis of information which are not quite correct and which take a very narrow and one-sided view of ties while ignoring the strong and cordial relations between our two countries and their people and the reality of the nearly three million Indian expats living in the Kingdom.

Your attempt to compare my country to a terrorist organization by saying that ‘Saudi Arabia has officially sanctioned more beheadings this year than the IS’ is shocking. I wonder if your newspaper knows the exact number of people killed by IS, the biggest enemy of Islam and the enemy of humanity, as declared by my government and the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, and other Muslim religious leaders around the world.

I would take the opportunity to point out that Indians in Saudi Arabia are the largest single nationality out of about ten million foreign nationals who are held in high esteem, and their number has been growing over the years. To suggest that the Indian community in Saudi Arabia are “poor workers” is another factual mistake. My country hosts hundreds of thousands of Indian professionals, including doctors, engineers, professors, IT specialists, nurses, managers who work in a large spectrum of economic activities. Their well-being and contribution are acknowledged by both the Saudi Arabian and Indian governments.

Saudi labor laws provide full legal protection to all expatriates, including a unified labor contract, and provisions that prohibit employing persons in works different from the profession stated in the contract or holding their payments, and provisions as in Article 61 of the labor law that obligate employers to treat their employees with due respect and to refrain from any action or saying that might hurt their dignity or religion. In case of any grievance, doors are open to them for mitigation. Expatriates are not subjected to any discrimination or excesses, although some stray incident can not be ruled out in any society. Unfortunately, these few aberrations are generalized by a section of the media, which also ignore the so many positive aspects and bright side of the picture. Also, in 2014 the two government signed a bilateral agreement that allows prisoners to spend their sentenced term in their home country if they wish, a very significant pact in itself.

I also would like to bring up to your notice that socioeconomic exchanges between our two friendly countries are so intense and diverse, and growing over the years, as to minimize the preponderance of any single view. In the last three years, travelers for all purposes between Saudi Arabia and India has averaged well over 2 million persons per year, an indication of a vigorous and healthy relationship.

As regards the case of the Indian maid, Ms. Munirathinam Kasthuri, Riyadh police had issued a statement on October 15, detailing the circumstances that led to Ms. Kasthuri losing her hand. The statement refuted the reports carried by Indian and international media that she was attacked by her 70-year-old lady employer, explaining that she lost her arm as a result of her fall when she tried to escape her employer’s house. The statement was shared with your newspaper, but yet ignored.

As far as the allegations levelled against a Saudi diplomat are concerned, the Embassy publicly announced in its statement dated September 9, 2015 that the allegations are false. It stands by that statement till today.

I welcome the suggestions regarding tighter regulation of unregistered and unregulated visa brokers, and the need to sensitize the recruiting agents about their legal obligations.

I would very much appreciate it if this rejoinder gets a prominent space in your esteemed newspaper as early as possible. I would be happy for a meeting with you or any of your senior representatives for any clarification/details you may require on the issue and to generally have a chat on all aspects of bilateral ties between our two very friendly nations.

Best regards,

Ambassador Saud Al Sati

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