Published: Published Date – 05:48 PM, Thu – 23 June 22
Jeddah: The sun beats down mercilessly and most days the wind picks up and for the rest of the day sand hits so harsh that it gets deposited in the mouth, ears, eyes or any other body part exposed. Seeing a fellow human being or hearing their voice is something that doesn’t happen in weeks and sometimes months together.
In such harsh conditions in the desert, some Indian youth, who are fraudulently recruited by agents back home, can be found behind a herds of camels working as their care takers. It is almost next to impossible to navigate if one wants to exit from the arid deserts without knowing any paths amidst heavy winds.
23-year old Shaikh Abdul Aziz was one of such persons hailing from Khammam in Telangana, he dreamed of working as a driver in a construction firm that engages world football cup tournament infrastructure in Qatar and accordingly he had arrived in Qatar only to discover that he would have to work as shepherd in desert in neighboring Saudi after few days.
Like him there are, many more Indians who were also brought on visit visas to Saudi Arabia from Qatar by their sponsors. Many Qataris own livestock and farms in Saudi Arabia. Since the end of the pandemic Indian embassy has helped over two dozen distressed Indian camel gazers to return home with the support of local Saudi authorities.
Abdul Aziz’s day begins with counting the camels to find any missing, then cleaning the pen, cooking lentils and packing a tiffin box, wrapping gunny bag around water gallon to maintain the cool and carrying it on his left shoulder, while other hand holding stick taking camels into desert.
There is no shed whatsoever and except his own shadow where temperature rises to nearly 48 Celsius degrees, mobile signals also are not received properly in the desert. Like others of his fraternity he too does not know the location where he was living in the desert. Abdul Aziz was fortunate enough to find wi-fi from another shepherd and was able to call his father back home to inform his ordeal, in turn his father approached the Indian embassy in Riyadh seeking help through noted social worker Siddique Tanvoor of Kerala.
Siddique volunteered to drive 3600 kilometers to go and pick him and back to Riyadh capital from where he was repatriated along with another shepherd from Nirmal recently. Driving such a long distance in the desert is not adventurism but a risk that Siddique took. He said that he was able to travel in the desert and bring them back to the capital with the only help of Indian embassy officials and local Saudi authorities.