Fourteen Indians are stranded in Saudi Arabia with most of them in the country's jails after two local travel agents allegedly sent them to work in the Middle East nation on tourist visas, police said. Now, their tourist visa has expired and they do not have work visas, they added.
Of the 14 people stranded in Saudi Arabia, 12 hail from Himachal Pradesh's Mandi district while two are from Punjab. Twelve of these 14 are lodged in the jails of Saudi Arabia. The other two are working in a company in the Middle East nation, police said.
Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur has raised the issue with Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and urged her to bring back the 14 people who are stranded in Saudi Arabia.
CM Thakur had called up the Union minister and asked her to personally take up the matter with Saudi Arabia authorities for their release. The chief minister has also written a letter to Ms Swaraj in this regard.
Police said the travel agents had promised the now stranded people of acquiring work visas and allegedly cheated them of Rs 90,000 each.
The travel agents Mohammad Asif and Qadir were charged under Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"The travel agents were charged on the basis of a complaint lodged by a Sundernagar resident Saroj whose husband Harjinder Singh is one of the fourteen people," police officer Gurdev Sharma said.
"Though an FIR against the two travel agents was registered but neither of them has been arrested so far as the matter is under investigation," the officer said.
The complainant has alleged that the travel agents had assured them to send to Saudi Arabia on work visa, but they were sent there on tourist visa, Mr Sharma said.
In her complaint, one Saroj alleged that her husband along with the 13 others, went to Saudi Arabia after the agents had promised them high-salaried jobs.
The agents had charged Rs 90,000 from each person as fee for arranging their work visa and jobs at Saudi Arabia, she alleged.
The agents sent all these 14 persons on tourist visas, she said, claiming that the agents told them that the company, where they would be employed, would arrange their work visa after three months.
She further alleged that the employer company had not provided them work visa despite promises by the agents.
Now that their tourist visas have expired, the company has retained their passports, she has alleged.
Besides, Harjinder Singh, the 13 other people, who are stuck in Saudi Arabia, include Tanuj Kumar, Ravi Kant, Ashwani, Shyam Lal, Onkar Chand, Devendra Kumar, Vikram Chand, Prem Singh, Joginder Singh, Manoj Kumar, Lalit Kumar, Devender and Bhupendra, Saroj has said in her complaint.
Sundernagar MLA Rakesh Jamwal said he had taken up issue with the chief minister and Mandi MP Ram Swaroop Sharma.
He said he has urged them to raise the issue with Ms Swaraj for ensuring their return to India.