In 2009, when S Murugan left his family in Tamil Nadu to take up a masonry job at a construction company in Saudi Arabia to earn more for his family, he never imagined that six years later, he would be stuck in the country penniless and unable to get back to his own country.
“I want to go back to India and meet my family”, Murugan tells The News Minute over the phone. He has been stuck in Saudi Arabia for more than a year now without getting his salary at the construction company.
He is not alone. Murugan and 109 other Indians have been living in a labour camp on the Jubail- Damam highway for a year now. “The conditions are pretty bad here. About 10 people stay in one room and we are provided with meals only twice a day,” he says.
He added, “We do not have any income coming in our family now, my wife Gandhimati goes for small jobs at times. I had come to Saudi to better the lives of my children. All of them are studying right now. Now, they are the only hopes to our family.”
He hails from Urangalapetti in Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu. He went to Jubail city in Saudi Arabia to work as a mason at a construction company Al- Mojil MMG in 2009.
Back home, his wife Gandhimati and mother Onnama keep asking him when he will be coming back to India. His three children- Vinod, Ajay and Vidhya – are keeping his hope alive, as they try to do what they can to help him get back.
Six years back when he came to Jubail, he used to get a salary of 1,031 Riyal (Rs.18000) from the company. After three years, it was increased to 1,204 Riyals (Rs. 21,000) but for the past one year no salary has been paid, he says.
These people are not also allowed to leave the camp and travel in the city as they do not have work permits now.
“The company asks us to contact the Indian embassy and the embassy has not initiated any procedures for our return”, says Murugan. On Wednesday however, the Indian embassy officials came to the camp and took down their names.
An agreement was signed between the Indian diplomats and Saudi labour ministry officials this March to coordinate better over such issues.