Dubai: Awaiting relief from the government and authorities of India and Saudi Arabia, hundreds of Indians are stranded in Dubai after Saudi Arabia announced a temporary ban on non-citizens’ entry into the kingdom from 20 foreign countries.

Saudi Arabia announced the restriction after the kingdom witnessed a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. Saudi-bound Indians who were eager to finish their 14-day quarantine in Dubai in order to enter the country are now hit by uncertainty due to the sudden ban.

The passengers had arrived in UAE after the restrictions imposed by Saudi stated foreigners can't enter until they undergo a 14-day quarantine in any of the neighboring countries like UAE, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, etc.

Ever since the imposition of the restriction, passengers are left high and dry in UAE with neither the Indian nor Saudi government authorities paying heed to their hues and cries. Most of the passengers who fall into the ‘blue-collar employees’ are now running out of finances and resources to afford an extended stay in Dubai.

PA Hameed, an advocate and social worker in Riyadh, has written a letter to External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar seeking his intervention and has also tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in multiple tweets to bring the issue to his notice.

The letter says those stranded include families, children, and pregnant women. "Some Indian residents in Saudi Arabia who traveled to Dubai a couple of days back to fetch their families and relatives are also stranded due to the sudden development. All of them are in a hapless situation and are pleading for immediate help from the Indian government," it said.

Recently, both Indian Embassies in UAE & Saudi Arabia issued an advisory to the people stranded in Dubai to return back to India. Hameed said the move was unexpected and unusual, asking people to go back to India is the last thing the government should be doing. The embassy should try and come with a plan and diplomatic dialogue insisting the Saudi authorities to allow these stranded Indians into the kingdom.

“"I request the Government of India & other concerned authorities to look into this issue immediately & to facilitate them to be landed in Saudi Arabia by effecting diplomatic consultations with the Saudi Arabian Government in this regard,” he said.

Several passengers who are stranded in UAE have called for help adding that they have run out of money for an extended stay. Many of them have also added that they had to resort to taking loans to facilitate their journey to Saudi Arabia via Dubai for quarantine and now they’re left with uncertainty as there is no guarantee when Saudi will lift the temporary ban.

“We can only hope that the Indian government bails us out from the crisis” one of the stranded passengers Sufyan who hails from Mangaluru said.

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New Delhi, Jul 22: The government on Monday cited an inter-ministerial group report prepared in 2012 to assert that a case for granting special category status to Bihar is not made out; a stand which came a day after BJP's allies from Bihar demanded the status for the backward state.

In a written reply in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the Monsoon session, Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary said special category status was granted in the past by the National Development Council (NDC) to some states which were characterised by a number of features necessitating special consideration.

These included hilly and difficult terrain, low population density or sizeable share of tribal population, strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries, economic and infrastructural backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances, he said in reply to a question asked by JD(U) member Rampreet Mandal.

The decision was taken based on an integrated consideration of all the factors listed above and the peculiar situation of a state, the minister said.

"Earlier, the request of Bihar for Special Category Status was considered by an Inter-Ministerial Group (IMG) which submitted its Report on 30th March 2012. The IMG came to the finding that based on existing NDC criteria, the case for Special Category Status for Bihar is not made out," the minister said.

The Congress-led UPA was in power at the time.

JD(U) leader Sanjay Kumar Jha had voiced his party's demand for the status at an all-party meeting on Sunday. The Lok Janshakti Party (Ram Vilas), also a BJP ally, and the opposition RJD echoed the same demand at the meeting.

The JD(U), though, has already conveyed to the Centre that it is willing to settle for a special financial package in case the status cannot be granted to the state.

The BJD and the YSR Congress had made the same demand for Odisha and Andhra Pradesh respectively in the meeting.

The government has in the past also argued that the 14th Finance Commission report has ruled out the possibility of any more states being granted the status, which includes tax relief and higher central funding for the beneficiary states.