The Union government has denied Kerala Minister K T Jaleel a a diplomatic passport to visit Saudi Arabia, where scores of migrant workers from the state are reportedly languishing in labour camps.
The CPM-led government has deputed Jaleel, Minister for Local Administration and Minority Affairs, to visit Saudi Arabia and facilitate the return of migrants, who are in trouble following lay-offs in construction firms.
The state government has estimated that among the 5,000 Indians stranded in the camps, about 300 are from Kerala. The minister and a senior government official were slated to fly to Saudi on Friday.
Jaleel said that on Thursday night, he got an official communication from the External Affairs Ministry, denying him the diplomatic passport.
“It was really unfortunate that the Union Ministry has denied the diplomatic passport. I don’t know the reason behind the decision and I can’t say whether any politics was involved in it. My visit was aimed at helping the expatriates from Kerala, who are suffering in the camps after losing their jobs,’’ he said.
He added: “In the present scenario, it would be difficult to visit a labour camp with an ordinary passport. We would not get any legal protection without a diplomatic passport.”
Jaleel said he did not know if politics played a role behind the denial of the diplomatic passport. “A major chunk of the stranded workers hail from UP. Since UP polls are approaching, the Union government might have thought that the poll-bound state too would send a delegation if Kerala is given permission,” said the minister.