Hyderabad: Migrant workers go to the Gulf countries hoping for a better future but what awaits them there are long working hours, non-payment of wages, forced overtime, and even abuse. From 2014 to October 2019, over 33,988 Indian migrant workers have died in the Gulf countries. A majority of these deaths are reported in Saudi Arabia.

Since 2014, 15,022 Indian migrant workers have died in Saudi Arabia, 8,022 in the United Arab Emirates, and 3,580 in Kuwait. In Oman 3,009 Indian migrants have died since 2014 while 1,611 have died in Qatar and 1,235 in Bahrain. Every year, around 2,600 labourers die in Saudi Arabia due to various reasons. The data was provided by V. Murleedhan, the minister of state for external affairs, in November last year following a question in the Parliament.

On 5 September, the mortal remains of a migrant worker, who was working in Saudi Arabia, reached India 145 days after his death. Sunke Rajaiah, 55, of Kondapur village, Velagatur Mandal in Jagtial district, Telangana, died on 14 April while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The shipment of the coffin to India was delayed due to the suspension of flights during the lockdown.

The bodies of two others – Chiliveri Lacham of Jagtial district and Chetkuri Rajesham of Rajanna Sircilla district of Telangana – were recently shipped to India from Saudi Arabia after a long delay.

“The cancellation of visas and transportation costs are prime reasons behind the delay. At any given time, the bodies of around 100 Indian workers are lying in mortuaries in Saudi Arabia, waiting to be sent home. Staff shortage in the Indian Missions in Riyadh and Jeddah cause the logjam,” said Swadesh Parkipandla, the president of Pravasi Mithra Labour Union.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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