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Time runs out for 'illegal residents' in Qatar
George Iype in Kochi | June 18, 2004 01:08 IST
The clock is ticking for nearly 300 Indians stuck in Qatar without proper travel documents or the money to fly back home.
Two months back, the Qatar government had declared that Indians overstaying in the country were "illegal residents" and would have till June 21 to leave.
Most of those declared illegal residents are construction labourers from Kerala. Reports reaching organizations for non-resident Indians in Kerala said the affected people are now seeking financial help to buy tickets.
"The Indians who are overstaying in Qatar are in a really miserable condition," says Kerala Pravasi League convener C P A Bava Haji.
He said Qatar's Criminal Evidence and Information Department has begun searching for Indian workers to extradite to India.
Haji said though the Indian Community Benevolent Fund, run by the Indian embassy in Doha, has provided air tickets to some stranded Keralites in Qatar.
"But... the ICBF does not have any money left," he said. He hoped the Indian government would step in and help the labourers out.
A group of NRI organisations based in the area are slated to meet Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed, who is currently touring the Gulf region.
Overstaying Indians have been an issue in many countries in the region. Last year, the United Arab Emirates had given some 40,000 illegal Indian immigrants four months to leave the country.
The increasing number of expatriates returning to India has alarmed some state governments. In the last decade, nearly 800,000 people have come back to cash-strapped Kerala and the government has not been able to help rehabilitate them.
Recently, the Kerala government set up a special cell to give legal advice to non-resident Indians in various Gulf countries. An official said the lawyers, with experience in international labour laws, would help returning Indians collect their arrears in wages.
More reports from Kerala