Riyadh, Dec 29: Seven Indian workers, who were detained for staying in Saudi Arabia in violation of visa laws, were released from the Abha detention centre in Asir province.
The workers, some of whom were in violation of visa regulations and the rest cheated by their sponsors, were released Thursday, Arab News reported Sunday.
Four of them flew home Friday morning.
“Of a total of 22 Indian inmates in the detention centre, only seven were eligible to return home,” Indian social worker Ashraf Kutichal said.
He said the Abha chapter of the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress paid 1,000 Saudi riyals (around $265) each for the release of the expatriates as penalty for not being in possession of a valid iqama, a residency permit in Saudi Arabia for expatriates.
Ashraf said the remaining 15 face various charges and would not be allowed to leave the country.
“We are very happy going back home. We faced a lot of difficulties because of the adverse conditions. It was very cold inside the deportation centre, especially at night,” one of the workers was quoted as saying.
Mohammed Shamsuddin from Nizamabad district of Andhra Pradesh said: “I was going to the labour court to show my passport which I finally received from my sponsor but without an exit stamp. I was suddenly apprehended by the security patrols who brought me to the deportation centre where I have spent 55 days.”
Arshad Khan from Gurgaon, Haryana, said he had paid 2,000 Saudi riyals (around $533) to his sponsor so that he could return to India but he ended up at the deportation centre instead.