Kerala MLA KT Jaleel on Friday criticised the Centre saying he was denied a diplomatic passport to visit Indians suffering in Saudi Arabia's labour camps. Jaleel said it was unfair of the Ministry of External Affairs to reject his request and not give him a reason for it, when he merely wanted to help the Centre bring the Indians back to the country, ANI reported.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan called the Centre's decision "unfortunate" and "mysterious", but he denied that there was a political motive behind the move. "We accept that the Centre is making all efforts to mitigate hardships of those who had lost their jobs," he said, adding that they wanted to send Jaleel to Saudi Arabia as their families in the state were "extremely concerned", according to PTI.

However, spokesperson for the ministry Vikas Swarup said there was most likely a misunderstanding regarding the timing of the minister's visit to the West Asian country. Swarup added that Saudi Arabia had assured India that workers who wished to return would be allowed to do so.

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had confirmed in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday that Saudi Arabia had agreed to hand out exit visas and bear the cost for sending the thousands of Indian workers home. The crisis came to light after it emerged that nearly 10,000 Indian workers in Saudi Arabia are jobless and starving after large-scale layoffs. Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh has been there since August 2 to push for the workers to be sent home.