Hyderabad: A migrant worker from Telangana who worked in Saudi Arabia's Jeddah municipality as a helper was arrested for possessing kitchen knives last year.

Yenam Venugopal from Kosunoorupalle (Jaina) village under Dharmapuri Mandal in Jagtial district left for Saudi Arabia in July 2015. He worked in Sedar Group Trading and Contracting Company's Baladia garbage-collecting vehicle.

In May 2020, Venugopal was arrested when he went inside the jail premises to collect garbage. Security personnel inspected the vehicle at the gate and found some kitchen knives.

The driver and two workers were arrested and taken to Mecca jail. While the driver and a worker were released, Venugopal continues to languish in jail.

Yenam Venugopal is one among 1599 Indians imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

Replying to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Murleedharan said around 1599 Indian nationals are behind the bars in Saudi Arabia followed by 898 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Around 886 Indians are jailed in Nepal.

A total of 7,139 Indians including undertrials are lodged in various jails across the world.

"Due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, the local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information. Even countries which share information do not generally provide detailed information about the foreign nationals imprisoned," said V Murleedharan.

The minister noted Indian Missions/Posts abroad remain vigilant and closely monitor the incidents of Indian nationals being put in jail in foreign countries for violation of local laws or alleged violation of local laws.

"Apart from extending them all possible consular assistance, Indian Missions and Posts also assist in providing legal aid wherever needed. Missions and Posts also maintain a local panel of lawyers where the Indian community is in sizeable numbers," said V Murleedharan.

The government also said that there is a regular process of consultation and coordination with countries concerned on the issue of repatriation of Indian nationals in foreign prisons including in the context of bilateral agreements for Transfer of Sentenced Persons (TSP). In addition, the government through its Missions/Posts abroad also takes up and pursues grant of amnesty/ commutation of sentences of Indian prisoners in foreign countries.

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