Indian newspaper "The Hindu" revealed that the ongoing economic crisis afflicting Qatar led many investors Indians to prison as a result of their partnerships with Doha, which forces them on certain partnership rates even if the Qataris do not pay their share in these partnerships.
Another 2,000 debt-ridden Indian entrepreneurs are leading a fugitive life without being able to return to their homeland.
“Some of the economic offences are clear violations of the agreement between India and Qatar on the reciprocal promotion and protection of investments signed in April 1999,” Prajeesh Thiruthiyil, president of the Indian-Qatar Entrepreneurs Action Council, which has taken up the issue with the Ministry of External Affairs, told The Hindu.
He says that about 150 prisoners are from Malabar and of the remaining, the majority are from Tamil Nadu.
At the same time, council general convener M.K. Janardhanan says the imprisonment of Indians without any trial violates the spirit of bilateral agreement.
All disputes have to go through various procedures such as mutual negotiations, settlement at a tribunal where the chairman will be a national from a third country, settlement by a court in Kuwait and finally arbitration at the Hague, the Netherlands.
The situation is grave with one debt-ridden businessman taking his life while nine other who are a jail resorting to hunger protest. “The Indian Embassy has its own limitations as economic offences such as cheque bounce cases are considered non-bailable crimes,” Mr. Thiruthiyil says. The crisis is also having a deep social impact back home as well, resulting in unreported suicides and divorce cases.
“Those in jail are unable to visit their ailing parents. The only way out is for the Centre to intervene and get them released,” he adds.