A total of 4,705 Indian nationals are in prisons in the Gulf countries, the Ministry of External Affairs said in Lok Sabha during the recent Budget Session.
Saudi Arabia, with 2,224, accounts for nearly half these prisoners, followed by the United Arab Emirates with 1,606, which is more than one-third of the 4,705.
Replying to a question by Congress member M K Raghavan, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said: “Apart from extending them all possible consular services, Indian Missions and Posts abroad also assist in extending legal aid wherever needed. Missions and Posts also maintain a local panel of lawyers where Indian community is in sizeable numbers. Legal assistance is also provided to Indian nationals abroad including those in prison on a means tested basis through the Indian Community Welfare Fund. No fee is charged by our Missions and Posts abroad in such cases.”
Earlier during the session, TDP member Jayadev Galla asked about the number of Indians living illegally in the Gulf countries. Singh replied that these numbers have not been shared by the Gulf counties.
He described an amnesty scheme in the UAE for overstaying foreigners to regularise their visa status between August 1 and December 31, 2018.
“During this period, a total of 6,823 Indian citizens sought consular help from the Indian Mission, of which 1,949 were from Telangana, 1,064 from Andhra Pradesh and remaining from other parts of India. Consulate issued 4,034 Emergency Certificates free of cost for their return to India and 2,802 short-validity passports for those who wanted to rectify their status and continue to remain in UAE. Consulate also provided free air tickets to 230 Indians for their return to India during the amnesty scheme,” Singh said.