By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | ARAB NEWS
RIYADH: More than 100 illegal expatriate workers, mainly Asian overstayers and run-away domestic helpers, have been arrested by the Riyadh police during raids conducted over the past few days. Eyewitnesses said that police cars combed areas of Riyadh, notorious as being areas populated by illegal residents and petty criminals, on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
"Regular raids by police are aimed at detaining illegal workers and curbing crime in the capital city,” said local resident Alamgir Hussain.
Eyewitnesses said that Asian expatriates, mainly from Bangladesh, Yemen, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan, India and some African countries, were rounded up from Haiul Wazarat, Al-Salahiya and Batha districts of the city during the raids.
Detainees included seven people from the Al-Salahiya district on Tuesday after police arrested them following a massive surveillance operation in the area. The seven were allegedly involved in the production and sale of illegal alcohol to Saudis and expatriates.
Mohammed Qais Khan, an expatriate banker who lives in Hailul Wazarat area, said that the policemen were seen taking with them busloads of overstayers on Tuesday and Wednesday. Khan could not give the specific number of the workers detained by the policemen. Some of the workers were released after questioning when they produced valid residence and work documents, said a barber, who was one among those detained by the police.
Arab News contacted Riyadh police headquarters to ascertain the exact number of workers but no person authorized to comment was available.
Local residents seemed pleased with the police operation. “The crackdown by the police will help to ensure security on the streets of the capital, which are no longer safe,” said Javed Ahmed, an Indian expatriate. Ahmed was recently attacked by two muggers in the Haiul Wazarat area of Riyadh recently. He said that he was carrying SR10,000 in one of his pockets when two unidentified youths attacked him and attempted to snatch the cash.
“I was really shocked and amazed that these two persons knew about the money I had,” said Ahmed, who somehow managed to save his money. He, however, suffered cuts and minor bruises during the scuffle in Hara area. There is concern that the illegal residents of the Hara, Batha and Ghubera areas of the city are working in tandem with organized groups of young Saudis. Recently, police arrested a gang of five youths, who had been involved in robbing taxi drivers at knifepoint.