Sushma Swaraj
India extended the time limit of multiple entry visas for Bangladeshi nationals to five from one.Reuters

Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has assured to take all possible steps for the release of 41 Indian labourers jailed in the prison of Saudi Arabia. The laborers are imprisoned in a Makkah jail, the holy city of Muslims, on charges of riots when they protested against the death of their co-worker at a private firm.

Though the India labourers have served their jail term of one year, Saudi authorities have not yet released them. The relatives and kin of the Indian migrant laborers complained to the minister about the same, when they met her in Delhi on Wednesday, 2 July. Janata Dal (United) MP Ali Anwar Ansari represented the kin of the jailed Indian workers and met Swaraj

According to Ansari, Swaraj has promised that the Union government would make all efforts to bring back the jailed Indian workers.

"The Minister said she did not agree with the reasons given by Joint Secretary Mukta Tomar for their continued incarceration as our citizens have already served their sentence and suffered lashings, The Hindu quoted Ansari.

"She promised she would talk to our ambassador in Riyadh (Hamid Ali Rao) tonight and bring our boys back home. After a year of fruitless petitions we are thankful to Sushmaji but requested her to urgently process this as there will be a three-month delay once Haj holidays begin there."

About 35 relatives and parents of the jailed labourers met the Union External Affairs Minister on Wednesday and urged her to take up the matter with Saudi authorities to release their kin from Saudi jails. Most of the jailed workers are from Bihar and other states like Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Jharkhand. The workers were put behind the bars by Saudi authorities as their former employer has claimed compensation for the riot damages from the workers.

On 12 June 2013, the workers protested against the employer of Nesma and Partners in Makkah, when the company allegedly refused to facilitate transportation of the body of 25-year-old Haroon Rashid, who was electrocuted. The workers demanded that the employer pay for transportation of Haroon's body to Siwan in Bihar, the native place of the deceased.

Mustaq Alam, father of Rashid, is in inconsolable dismay as his younger son is also jailed in Saudi, The Times of India reported. Alam said that the owner of Nesma and Partners has registered a false case against the workers seeking compensation of around ₹3.5 crore towards damages, reportedly caused by the workers when they protested. "Now we have been informed that the private company has registered a false case seeking compensation of around Rs 3.5 crore towards damages, allegedly caused during the protests," Alam explained.

According to the Union Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, the employer in Saudi is very adamant about getting the compensation for the property damage caused by the workers' protest.

However, the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia is striving to get the release of the workers by negotiating with the employer to waive the condition of compensation.