Oman offers amnesty

Omani leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said. Photo Credit: The National
Omani leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said.                                                 Photo Credit: The National

Around 60,000 Indians may benefit from an amnesty scheme announced in Oman, under which people without valid documents could either return to their country without being penalised or can rectify their papers, said a diaspora expert.

The Oman government announced the schemeand said it will run from May 3 to July 30.

S. Irudayarajan, who heads the migration cell at the Centre for Development Studies, said that Oman has an estimated 400,000 Indians, among them 1.89 lakh Keralites.

“Of the 400,000 Indians in Oman, around 15 percent would be without legal documents. This is the best time for all those who do not have proper documents to either rectify that or return home,” said Irudayarajan.

He said according to informed sources, a similar scheme might be announced in Bahrain in two months’ time.

“We have made numerous requests to the authorities that there should be a pre-departure training for Indians who decide to take up jobs in the Middle East countries,” said Irudayarajan.

He said most of the people who do not have valid documents are labourers who pay around Rs.1 lakh to get a work visa to work.

“At times, some people are unlucky as they do not get the job and the salary they were promised, and then trouble starts for them. After the completion of their contract term which could be two or three years, they skulk from the employer and then they work illegally and end up without having any documents for a legal stay,” said Irudayarajan.

The most recent study conducted by K.C. Zachariah and Irudayarajan reveals that the number of Kerala emigrants as in 2014 was 23.63 lakh. Nearly 90 percent of the Kerala diaspora is in various Middle East countries.

During the 12-month period ending March 1, 2014, the total remittances to Kerala stood at Rs.72,680 crore.

Remittances were 1.2 times the revenue receipt of the state and 4.9 times the money that the state got from the central government.

Kerala Minister for Diaspora K.C. Joseph told IANS that he learnt about the amnesty scheme and will get it touch with various Kerala based organisations to help those people who wish to return.

“If required, I will make a visit to Oman. All those who wish to return would be asked to return. The purpose of my visit would be to open a dialogue with the Omani authorities to see that they help people who wish to remain there by rectifying their documents,” said Joseph.