15,000 Indian illegal immigrants avail of amnesty in Oman

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Dubai, Oct 8 (UNI) Oman is expected to pardon another 2,000 Indian illegal immigrants wishing to leave the country, taking the total number of workers availing amnesty so far this year to 15000.

''The Omani government's benevolence has always been impressive and inspiring. Under the amnesty announced by the government last year, 13,000 Indian illegal immigrants have left the country so far.

More than 15,000 cases were registered with the Indian embassy.

''Now, the government will consider pardoning another 2,000 Indian illegal immigrants,'' Visiting Indian Minister of State for external Affairs E Ahamed told Times of Oman.

Illegal workers in the Gulf are often an offshoot of a system which retains the passport of the immigrants. The workers often run away leaving the passport with the employer when they are not paid salaries on time and are thus rendered illegal.

This official pardon, if announced, according to sources, may not be an extension of the earlier announced amnesty, but will be a step to protect human rights, as in most cases workers have been facing exploitation by unscrupulous recruiting agents, and employers.

Oman government had recently cleared a list of 584 Indian illegal immigrants for repatriation to India without payment of fine. The process of taking finger prints and issuance of emigration clearances is underway.

However, there are still some people who do not want to avail of this opportunity. Statistics reveal that more than 4,00,000 Indians are living in the Sultanate.

''Our mutual relations are growing from strength-to-strength. Many new projects are in the pipeline. The cultural, political and economic relations will continue to grow in the years to come,'' Mr Ahamed said.

During his visit, M K Ahamed met Sayyid Ali bin Hamoud bin Ali Al Busaidi, Minister of the Diwan of Royal Court; and Dr Juma bin Ali bin Juma, Minister of Manpower, and held discussions on issues of common interest. He also met members of the Indian community and attended iftar gatherings.

The value of annual bilateral trade stands at about one billion dollars. Last year, Oman and India marked 51 years of diplomatic ties.

The consulate of India opened in Muscat in 1955. Till 1971, Britain and India were the two countries having diplomatic presence in Oman. Oman established its embassy in New Delhi in 1972 and a consulate-general in Mumbai in 1976.

Over 25 per cent of the 2.5 million population of Oman is expatriate.

UNI

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