Hyderabad, November 6: Leader of Opposition in Telangana Legislative Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir has accused Panchayat Raj Minister K. Takarakarama Rao of shedding crocodile tears on the issue of Gulf migrants.
Addressing a press conference at Congress Legislature Party office here on Friday, Shabbir Ali said that the TRS Government did not respond to the woes of Gulf migrants during the last 17 months. However, in view of Warangal by-elections, KTR enacted the drama of meeting Union Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj over Gulf victims. “Nearly 10 lakh people from Telangana, especially those hailing from Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Warangal and Old City of Hyderabad, are working in Gulf countries and the State Government never bothered to check their status. About 12,000 of them are languishing in different prisons of Gulf countries on various charges and nearly 400 died due to different reasons. But Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao never held a review meeting on this issue and now his son is trying to express his ‘concern’ for the Gulf migrants,” he said.
Shabbir Ali reminded that the TRS, in its election manifesto, had promised to set up a separate ministry for NRI Affairs. “Many Gulf workers truly believed that TRS would do something for their welfare and also campaigned and voted for the party in 2014 elections. Instead of taking some positive measures, KCR almost scrapped NRI Department, stopped allocated funds of Rs. 3 crore, closed NAC Centres and discontinued 0.5% of irrigation funds which used to be utilised for training of youth in rural areas. KTR should be ashamed of himself for the inaction during the last 17 months,” he said.
The Congress leader said that more than the Centre, State Government plays a major role in ensuring well-being of the workers who are migrating to Gulf and other countries. He said it is the State Government’s responsibility to check the veracity of travel agencies, check the immigration details, provide training to the aspirants and ensure that the youth from our State get proper placement. Further, he said that the State Government’s role become vital in extending help to the workers who fall sick and also get the dead bodies back home if anyone die in those countries.
Shabbir Ali also questioned KTR’s authority to make a representation with the Centre on the issue. “In what way a Panchayat Raj Minister is connected to the issues of Gulf migrant workers? This issue should be raised at the Chief Minister’s level. KCR should have met the External Affairs Minister and would have involved the Prime Minister to convene a meeting with the Ambassadors or Consulates of countries concerned. During the regime of Dr. Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy, we did the same thing,” he said.
The Congress leader said KTR’s meeting with Sushma Swaraj was only for namesake and the TRS Government was not serious on the welfare of workers who migrated to Gulf in search of livelihood. He accused KTR and Nizamabad MP Kavitha of not honouring the promises they made for Gulf victims.
Shabbir Ali listed out various measures taken by the previous Congress regime to help the Gulf migrants. As the then incharge minister for NRI Affairs, he said he had brought back 1241 immigrants, who were detained in UAE for not having proper documents in October 2007. The State Government provided them free air tickets. In September 2008, as many as 45,000 people were brought back to home. “I headed a five-member delegation to study the condition of Telugus in Gulf and made arrangements for their travel back to India. Necessary documents were provided to 10,000 workers in Abu Dhabi Immigration Centre,” he said.
The previous Congress Government provided assistance to Gulf returnees and the NRI Department conducted job Melas in Sircilla, Jagitial, Kamareddy and other places. The NRI Dept assisted families of missing NRIs in coordination with the MEA. Attestation Centre was set up at the Secretariat for the authentication of educational certificates and attestation of marriage, death and birth certificates, etc., for those going abroad. Earlier people intending to abroad were supposed to travel all the way to New Delhi to get their certificates authenticated and attested. He said such a Centre did not exists even in Kerela or other State with high number of Gulf immigrants. The NRI Department played an active role in setting up US Consulate, Canada Trade Office, Honorary Consulate of Russia, Turkey Trade Office and other diplomatic and trade missions in Hyderabad, he said.
Shabbir Ali said instead of trying to play politics in connivance with the Centre, the State Government can immediate create a separate ministry and start providing training. He warned of serious agitation if the State Government continues to neglect the problems of Gulf migrants.
When asked about the Warangal by-elections, Shabbir Ali said that the Congress party would win the by-polls with a huge majority. He said no section of the society was happy with the TRS Government. He said farmers and students remained neglected under the TRS rule and Muslims and STs were unhappy for not providing promised 12% reservation. The Dalits are yet to get the promised three acres of land. Similarly, all other sections who are not happy with the performance of TRS Government would vote in favour of Congress candidate Sarve Satyanarayana.