At least 15 Punjabi youths are languishing in a jail in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates for the past about two months. Their kin back home do not even know why they have been put behind bars.
Parents of some of these youths, who approached Rajya Sabha member Avinash Rai Khanna in his office on Monday, said their wards had gone there on work permit, some even working there for the past three to four years. Suddenly, they were informed that they had been arrested by the police in some case.
"One day, a youth from Moga who had recently returned from Abu Dhabi called me to inform that my son Nirmal Singh and many others are in police custody in a criminal case," said Tarn Taran resident Nishan Singh.
Other families also received information from one or the other sources. Balwinder Singh, Jhalmal Singh and Kesar Singh of Nawanshahr, Balbir Ram of Garhshankar, Manjit Singh of Balachaur, Balwinder Singh of Jalandhar and Satwinder Singh of Tarn Taran said they had neither knowledge nor resources to secure the release of their sons. "Someone told us that MP Avinash Rai Khanna pursues such cases, so we decided to meet him and seek his support," said Balbir Ram.
Khanna said he would take up the matter with the foreign ministry. "It is unfortunate that the Indian government is not as concerned with the safety of its citizens in foreign countries as other governments are. Even if an Indian dies abroad, his kin have to go through a long traumatic procedure to bring the body back or to claim remittances," rued Khanna, demanding a special agency to deal with such overseas cases.