Hyderabad: Former minister and ex-Leader of Opposition in Telangana State Legislative Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir demanded that the State Government arrange special flights to bring back nearly 3.7 lakh migrant workers of Telangana stranded in Gulf countries.
Shabbir Ali, in a media statement on Monday, said that the over 3.5 lakh migrant workers from Telangana have been facing severe hardship due to lockdown in United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iraq. Hundreds of them, especially those living in Kuwait, are reportedly suffering from Coronavirus and need immediate attention and treatment. They have no source of livelihood, nothing to eat and no place to live. They are desperately waiting for help from the Government of India and Telangana Government, he said.
The Congress leader said it was highly unfortunate that the BJP Government at the Centre was only bringing back rich NRIs who can afford the cost of air travel and a 14-day stay in quarantine. “This is open discrimination. The policy of rescuing only the rich and leave the poor to their fate is highly regrettable.
The Government of India should help everyone irrespective of their present financial status. In the current crisis, poor people need more attention and help. We should not forget that these workers have earned billions of foreign exchange for the country for the last so many years. Just because they lost their jobs now and don’t have money even to return to their homes, they cannot be ignored,” he said while demanding that both Central and State Governments take measures to help the migrant workers living in the Gulf countries.
Shabbir Ali urged Prime Minister Narender Modi to speak to the heads of all Gulf countries seeking an extension of an amnesty scheme for all illegal migrant workers.
Further, he said that the State Government should prepare a list of migrant workers who need to be evacuated from the Gulf countries. He reminded that the previous Congress Government in the erstwhile united Andhra Pradesh in 2007 brought back nearly 25,000 Telugu speaking migrant workers from Gulf countries. The State Government arranged free tickets for 1256 workers who had no money for traveling.
This was done with the cooperation of the airline which reduced the ticket price by half after the Government of India waived off all the charges like Passenger Service Fee, User Development Fees, Development Fee, Fuel Surcharge, etc., “As the then NRI Welfare Minister I personally visited UAE and brought back 1256 workers to Hyderabad in five chartered flights. Why the same thing cannot be done now?” he asked.
“Almost 90% of migrant workers are not having money for air travel as they had exhausted all their savings during the lockdown. Now most of them don’t have money for food or other basic necessities. Therefore, the State Government should arrange free travel and also make arrangements for their quarantine in Hyderabad,” he said.
“The Telangana Government has continuously neglected the welfare of NRIs since the beginning. I had written several letters to Chief Minister Chandrashekhar Rao demanding a comprehensive NRI policy and a permanent set up to address the issues concerning migrant workers. However, nothing was done to address their issue.
But neglect is no more the option available to us now. We must help each and every citizen of Telangana stranded in the Gulf and other countries. We cannot leave them to their fate expecting self-healing of the situation. History will never forgive us if we forget them now,” Shabbir Ali said.