Sixty-nine Indian nationals are allegedly being illegally detained in the West Asian country of Jordan by their employer, a garments manufacturer, The News Minute reported on Saturday.

The workers, including women, have also accused their employer, Aseel Universal Garments, of refusing to settle their dues and denying them food and water at their accommodation.

The workers are unable to return to India with the payments despite a Jordanian labour court ruling in their favour on November 23, reported The News Minute. The court had directed Aseel Universal Garments to settle the workers’ dues and pay a fine for retaining them without requisite permits.

The Indian Embassy in Jordan has also been unresponsive to the workers’ appeals, according to the news website. Several of them are living there without company-sponsored visas, contracts and work permits, which expired in 2022.

Pavendhan Rajavel, one of the workers who hails from Ariyalur district in Tamil Nadu, told The News Minute, that the company refused to book his ticket to India after his work permit expired.

“Even though my permit is over, the company has been making me work in the factory... for several staff [members] here, nine months’ salaries are pending,” he alleged. “We have no money to sustain nor have we been able to send any money back to our families in India.”

The lack of a valid visa means that Pavendhan and his colleagues cannot leave the factory premises to purchase basic amenities or run errands for fear of being caught and fined by the police.

K Magendiravarman, an advocate, told The News Minute that neither the external affairs ministry nor the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s office has responded to the workers’ pleas for help despite an appeal being filed on their behalf in the Madras High Court.

“My client has requested to file a case if no response is received even after the holiday season,” Magendiravarman has been quoted as saying.

Thiru Neela Gandan, another worker whose father is currently admitted to a hospital in Chennai, told The News Minute: “They are trying to cheat us and are wrongfully giving us the tag of ‘illegal migrants’. We are being denied our basic human rights and our hard-earned money.”