New Delhi: India on Tuesday urged the Gulf countries to facilitate the return of Indian workers and professionals who are now eager to resume their work following the easing of coronavirus-related restrictions.

The issue figured at a virtual meeting External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), a leading regional organization comprising almost all Arab countries.

In the meeting, Jaishankar assured the Gulf nations on continuing the supply of food, medicines, and essential items from India.

The Ministry of External Affairs said Jaishankar thanked the GCC countries for taking care of the large Indian diaspora during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The External Affairs Minister mentioned that a large number of Indian workers and professionals are now eager to return to the GCC countries to resume their work.

"He urged the GCC leadership to facilitate their return through sustainable travel bubble arrangements with India," the MEA said.

Thousands of Indians had returned home from the Gulf region in the last few months following the coronavirus pandemic.

The MEA said the leaders also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.

While the Indian delegation was led by Jaishankar, the GCC was represented by Secretary-General of GCC Nayef Falah M Al-Hajraf, Foreign Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani and Foreign Minister of UAE Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash.

Senior representatives from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar also participated in the meeting.

"They agreed that the India-GCC partnership in political, economic, and other domains would be further strengthened. The GCC welcomed India's inclusion in the UNSC as a non-permanent member from January 2021," the MEA said.

"Both sides affirmed their commitment to reform multilateral institutions to reflect the realities of the 21st century and to work together to address contemporary challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, sustainable development, and terrorism," it added.

In a series of tweets, Jaishankar said that continuing the flow of food, medicines and essential items were assured to the Gulf region.

The MEA said Jaishankar also apprised the GCC leaders about the progress made by India in vaccine development as well as in the development and manufacturing of diagnostic and other equipment related to COVID-19.

"Both sides reaffirmed that they will continue to work together to tackle COVID-19 situation," it said.

Jaishankar also apprised the GCC leaders of the improving situation in India, both on the health and the economic side.

He hoped for an early return to trade normalcy between India and the GCC.

India had ensured that the supply chains from India to the Gulf were not disrupted despite the lockdowns during the pandemic.

 

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Bengaluru, Jun 12: Karnataka police on Saturday said they have busted a Rs 290 crore plus scam that involved duping people through a mobile app after promising attractive interest on investment and two Chinese nationals were among the nine arrested.

The scam, aided by shell companies, is linked to money laundering and the suspected kingpin is a Kerala based business man with proximity to Chinese 'hawala' operators, they said.

Cyber Crime Division of CID said it has arrested accused persons, including two Chinese nationals, two Tibetans and five others acting as directors of the companies involved, and a search is on for the rest.

A complaint from Razor pay Software Private Limited said accused persons availed 'payment solutions' from them, claiming that they are in gaming, social and e-commerce businesses.

They, however, defrauded the company by using computer resources and by deviating from their original, registered line of business, the plaint said.

They started routing their transactions to collect payments from a different business named "Powerbank", an app listed in Google Playstore, cyber police said in a release.

Through customer complaints, the complainant company got to know that public invested money in the "Powerbank" app to earn interest on the invested amount.

The accused persons, after accepting the investments, neither gave the agreed interest nor the principal amount and cheated customers.

A case was registered under the Information Technology Act and 420 IPC (Cheating), the CCD said and added that the investigating team were successful in arresting nine men.

During investigation, it was found that Anas Ahmed, a Kerala based businessman, is the main person involved.

"We have also identified that he has very proximate connections with the Chinese hawala operators, which has come to light during the course of the investigation.

He had opened shell companies in the name of Bull Finch Technologies, H & S ventures and Clifford ventures to route the fraud money. Anas Ahamed is married to Chinese national and incidentally he did his studies in China," police said in the release.

Online applications hosted by him were later camouflaged and converted into different apps including Power Bank application, seeking investment from the public and promising good returns, the CCD said.

An unusual spike was seen in investments on the day Anees Ahmed announced much higher returns.

Subsequently, such apps were removed from Google Playstore and other websites and he absconded with the money.

Investigation showed Rs 290 crore inflow into his bank accounts and the CCD was successful in freezing a significant portion of it. There was a huge spike in opening of shell companies since November 2020.

"We have also observed that the Chinese handlers are in possession of a huge number of shell companies and bank accounts. Lured by the offer of the Chinese nationals, many innocent Indians and Tibetans have fallen in their trap to open shell companies and open bank accounts for them."