'Over 1,200 Indians in UAE jails'

Debts, suicides, jail: Why India's UAE Ambassador is a worried man

Over 1,200 Indian citizens, including women, are in the UAE jails for various crimes – including financial crimes, murder and theft, according to the Indian Ambassador to the UAE M K Lokesh.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7 at his office in Abu Dhabi, Lokesh was unable to say how many of those cases pertained to bad cheques issued, but added that embassy is currently collecting a detail breakdown.

“We are still collecting the latest figures and our representatives regularly visit the jails,” Lokesh said.

“We are a diplomatic mission. We are there to take care of the Indian community. However, they are subjected to the local rules.

“We can only warn the community and advise citizens not to get into such financial liabilities. If you cannot repay the loans, then don’t take loans.”

“We cannot give small interest free loans because we cannot do banking activities here. Part of the fund at the Indian Community Welfare Fund can be used to extending small help to distressed Indians, not for big amounts,” he said.

However, Lokesh is still a worried man.

Despite the embassy conducting 70 suicide prevention awareness campaigns through the Indian Workers Resources Center, the number of expat Indians resorting to ending their lives remains alarmingly high.

Over the last month at least one Indian has committed suicide in the UAE every week.

Almost all the cases had debt involved and often it was borrowings within the community.

“Recently I got a case where an Indian community member borrowed from another community member. The second party absconded to Kerala.

“We took action and sent their documents to the Kerala Government for police action. There are cases where people back home are harassed for loans taken here and we have helped them get local protection.

“In this case the disputed amount is Dh175,000 lent by one Indian to another in full trust.”

Despite the embassy conducting 70 suicide prevention awareness campaigns through the Indian Workers Resources Center, the number of expat Indians resorting to ending their lives remains alarmingly high.

Over the last month at least one Indian has committed suicide in the UAE every week.

Lokesh says the Indian embassy is going to up the awareness campaigns to cover the entire UAE and to conduct open houses regularly at the Indian Embassy and Consulate.

Lokesh reiterated that the embassy is not in a position to financially help all distressed Indians here because loans and other liabilities are huge amounts.

The embassy can extend a helping hand in selected cases and intervene on behalf of the distressed people through legal assistance or informally settling  financial disputes among Indians.

“Any suicide is a tragedy and it is the last resort. We have been following the numbers. We are very concerned.

“The embassy can take only a broader view and advise the community. Prevention is better than cure,” he said.

Lokesh also put the suicides down to psychological issues.

“Some victims were living here without their families and suffer from work-related stress. It is a psychiatrist’s job to advise such patients. They can contact the counselor at the IWRC. We have advised community associations here to keep an eye on such things.”

“In fact, nobody brings such suicide cases to our notice.  Nobody informs us about the suicidal people.
The Indian Workers Resource Center (IWRC) has been conducting awareness campaigns with the help of community organisations.

“They go to the workers camps and about 70 such camps have been already completed,” Lokesh said.

The IWRC has handled 39,000 phone calls, provided legal counseling for 1,633 cases personal counseling for and 360 and financial counseling for 150.

The IWRC suicide hotline is 800 46342.

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