New Delhi: There are approximately 400 Indian prisoners in various jails in the provinces covered by the Consulate General of India in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Parliament was told.
Giving the information in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the Government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and well-being of Indians in Saudi Arabia.
Indian Mission and Post in Saudi Arabia remain vigilant and closely monitor the incidents of Indian nationals being put in jail for violation/ alleged violation of local laws.
As soon as the information about the detention/arrest of an Indian national is received by Consulate General of India, Jeddah, it immediately gets in touch with the local Foreign Office and other concerned local authorities to get consular access to the detained/arrested Indian national to ascertain the facts of the case, confirm his Indian nationality and ensure his welfare.
He said the Indian Mission/Post has also established 24×7 Helplines and Toll Free Helplines for Indians in Saudi Arabia to seek help. Apart from extending all possible consular assistance to Indians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia, Indian Mission and Post also assist in providing legal aid wherever needed.
Mission and Post also maintain a local panel of lawyers. No fee is charged from any Indian prisoner for extending facilities by the Indian Consulate.
The Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) is set up in Indian Missions & Posts abroad for assisting overseas Indian nationals in distress situations on a means tested basis in deserving cases. The support extended under ICWF includes financial assistance to Indian prisoners for legal aid as well as travel documents / air tickets during repatriation, he said.
The Government makes every possible effort to get imprisoned Indian nationals released from Saudi jails. The Consulate team regularly visits Indian nationals imprisoned in jails and pursues the issue of their release with the local authorities concerned.
The Government also follows up the issue of early release and repatriation of Indian prisoners during high level visits and consular and other consultations with Saudi Arabia. When these imprisoned Indians get released, they are facilitated in getting travel documents for early repatriation, the MoS added.