India raises concerns over expats in Kuwait

Embassy urges authorities to stop 'harassing and arresting' Indians with valid documents
(AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)
By Courtney Trenwith
Tue 04 Jun 2013 01:17 PM

The Indian Embassy in Kuwait has sought a six-month grace period for residency violators and urged authorities to stop “harassing and arresting” Indians with valid documents, the Kuwait Times has reported.

Embassy officials on Monday discussed concerns with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs over what it claims is continuous harassment of Indian expats working in the Gulf state and the unwarranted arrest of some.

India claims some of its citizens in Kuwait are missing after being arrested, with authorities either failing or refusing to provide details of their whereabouts.

It also has complained they are being unfairly pulled over while driving to check the status of their driver’s licences and residency. 

Kuwait is cracking down on illegal workers in the country as part of its plan to cut expat numbers by 100,000 each of the next 10 years.

Expats, especially low paid workers from southern Asia, are heavily relied on to fill the workforce and make up two-thirds of the population. But some nationals complain that the government wastes billions of dollars each year subsidising essential services for them.

Lawmakers already have implemented segregation of health services for nationals and foreigners and last month deported about 1300 expats for traffic violations, according to the Traffic Department.

Acting Indian Ambassador Vidhu Nair said Indians in Kuwait were becoming increasing concerned that the measures was aimed at them, Kuwait Times said.

During the high level meeting on Monday he called on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to suspend the raids and give foreign residents six months to either legalise their status or return home.

He claimed most of those who had been arrested had only violated their residency visas because they had changed roles.

Nair said authorities had failed to inform the embassy about many Indian citizens who had been arrested or deported.

It has been reported that more than 500 Indians were taken into custody following a recent raid in Bneid Al-Gar, while Indian media this week reported that a group of men had been deported from Kuwait and flown to the Indian capital without any money and without informing their home country.

Nair also requested to be allowed to meet the detained Indians to provide any humanitarian assistance needed.

The foreign ministry had agreed to consider the embassy’s requests, he said.

“The talks have been quite positive and we hope that a solution can be found soon,” Nair told Kuwait Times.

The meeting came after hundreds of Indian workers stormed the embassy on Sunday demanding that it negotiate either the release of those arrested or at least information on their whereabouts.

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