Saudi Arabia has released seven of the 22 Indian workers jailed for visa violations, some of them had given themselves up to the police while others by their sponsors.

Reports, quoting agencies, said the seven were released from the Abha detention centre in Asir province last week.

A social activist who helped in the release was quoted as saying that only the seven people released were eligible to be sent home.

The rest face charges which need to be tried before a decision is taken on their release, the reports said.

The Saudi government has been enforcing labour laws, hoping that reducing the number of illegal workers in the kingdom will create opportunities for Saudi job seekers.

The Abha branch of the Overseas Indian Cultural Congress paid 1,000 Saudi riyals ($265) each for freeing the Indian workers as fine for not possessing a valid "Iqama", the residency permit for expatriates in Saudi Arabia, the reports said.

One worker, Mohammed Shamsuddin, from India’s southern Andhra Pradesh state was quoted as saying, "We are very happy going back home. We faced a lot of difficulties...It was very cold inside the deportation centre, especially at night."

Shamsuddin said he received his passport from his employer to return to India but it did not have an exit stamp. Security patrols apprehended him and he found himself in the detention centre for close to two months, the reports said.

Another worker Arshad Khan from Gurgaon city, adjoining the capital New Delhi, said he had given 2,000 Saudi riyals ($533) to his sponsor for his return to India, but instead was sent straight to the detention centre.

Unscrupulous middle-men

Scores of Indian personnel, especially blue collar workers, routinely get trapped among unscrupulous middle-men and their agents who exploit their wish to get jobs abroad.

Several cases have come up over the years detailing the extent of suffering some sections of Asian workers are subject to once they reach the shores of other countries, particularly in the Gulf, to take up promised employment and often times even after joining their jobs.

Sibi George, deputy chief of mission at the Indian Embassy in Riyadh, was recently quoted by Arab News as saying that more than 141,000 Indians have left the Kingdom, making use of the seven-month amnesty that expired in November first week.

"They were not deported, as they left on their own," he said.

About 1.4 million Indians corrected their legal status during the amnesty, including changing profession, transferring their sponsorship and renewing resident permits.

In all, 150,000 foreign workers, termed illegal by Saudi authorities, have left the country since November.

Source: Al Jazeera