Published: Publication date – 17:48, Thu – 23 Jun 22
Jeddah: The sun beats down mercilessly and most of the time the wind picks up and the rest of the day the sand hits so hard it gets deposited in your mouth, ears, eyes or any other exposed body part. Seeing a human being or hearing their voice is something that does not happen in weeks and sometimes months.
Under such harsh conditions in the desert, some young Indians, fraudulently recruited by agents left behind, find themselves behind herds of camels working as herdsmen. It is almost impossible to navigate if you want to get out of the arid deserts without knowing any way in the middle of the strong winds.
Shaikh Abdul Aziz, 23, was one such person from Khammam in Telangana, he dreamed of working as a driver in a construction company that engages the infrastructure of the soccer world cup tournament in Qatar and by Consequently, he had arrived in Qatar to find that he would have to work as a shepherd in the desert in neighboring Arabia after a few days.
Like him, there are many more Indians who have also been granted visit visas to Saudi Arabia from Qatar by their sponsors. Many Qataris own cattle and farms in Saudi Arabia. Since the end of the pandemic, the Indian Embassy has helped more than two dozen Indian camels in distress to return home with the support of local Saudi authorities.
Abdul Aziz’s day begins with counting camels to find the missing ones, then cleaning the pen, cooking lentils and packing a box of tiffin, wrapping a jute bag around a gallon of water to maintain freshness and carry it on his left shoulder, while the other hand holding a stick taking camels in the desert.
There are no sheds and except for its own shadow where the temperature soars to almost 48 degrees Celsius, mobile signals are also not received properly in the desert. Like others in his brotherhood, he too does not know where he lived in the desert. Abdul Aziz was lucky enough to find another shepherd’s wi-fi and was able to call his father at home to inform him of his ordeal. In turn, his father approached the Indian Embassy in Riyadh asking for help through famous social worker Siddique Tanvoor from Kerala.
Siddique volunteered to travel 3,600 kilometers to pick him up and bring him back to the capital Riyadh from where he was recently repatriated with another shepherd from Nirmal. Driving such a long distance in the desert is not adventurism but a risk that Siddique took. He said he was able to travel through the desert and bring them back to the capital with the sole help of Indian embassy officials and local Saudi authorities.