Bahraini employers demand cash for returning Indian passports

Dubai, Sep 26 (IANS) Cases of Bahraini employers holding back passports and demanding money from many Indian workers are hampering the amnesty process launched last month, said Indian ambassador to Bahrain Balkrishna Shetty.

The issue was raised by Shetty during a meeting with officials of General Directorate of Nationality, Passports and Residence (GDNPR) Tuesday.

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Illegal immigrants can avail the amnesty scheme and regularise their work permits until Dec 31, failing which heavy penalties will be imposed.

“During my meeting, I said many employers are asking for money from the amnesty seekers for releasing their passports,” Shetty was quoted as saying by Gulf Daily News.

“That is why the majority of the workers are approaching the embassy without their passports,” he added.

He said that the number of outpasses and letters issued by the embassy for Indian amnesty seekers had crossed the 5,000 mark.

“Until yesterday we issued 5,161 letters, including 3,378 outpasses for those who did not have their passports with them,” he told the newspaper.

To avoid exploitation of expat workers, the Bahraini government came out with a guidebook a few weeks back to make foreign workers aware of their rights and obligations after they land in Bahrain.

In August, the Indian mission in Bahrain had blacklisted around 45 local firms for violating the country’s labour laws and denying Indian workers their basic rights. The companies cannot recruit any more workers from India.

According to 2001 data, there are around 130,000 Indians in Bahrain.