Kerala’s Local Self Government Minister K.T. Jaleel, who was asked by the state government to fly to Saudi Arabia to coordinate efforts with Kerala cultural groups amid reports of hundreds of Keralites in the Gulf kingdom having been rendered jobless and facing a food crisis, has been denied a diplomatic passport for the travel.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday evening, Jaleel said that he is surprised by the turn of events.
“We were expecting to fly out to Saudi Arabia the moment my visit was cleared. When we checked out on the website, we were surprised to see that my application for a diplomatic passport was denied. It’s too early to say if there was a political motive behind the denial,” he said.
The state Cabinet on Wednesday had asked Jaleel and state government official V.J. Baby to fly to Saudi Arabia to meet up with the people of Kerala who are reported to have been holed up in labour camps, many of them being denied salaries and finding it tough to get food and water, following the financial problems being faced by a few Saudi Arabian companies.
Jaleel had planned to land at Jeddah and had already established contact with various Kerala cultural organisations there who were supposed to assist him.
Union Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh is in Saudi Arabia to coordinate with Saudi officials to airlift Indians wishing to return.
Meanwhile, a source said Jaleel can travel on a normal passport anytime.