: Hundreds of Malayali expatriates employed in Kuwait on domestic and labour visas have been arrested on charges of violating visa norms. Kuwait began a crackdown on immigrants working outside their visa permit three weeks ago, after the implementation of the new Nithaqat (classification) rules by Saudi Arabia.

Some Keralites, who have arrived here on vacation, said the worst affected were immigrants working in different sectors after having reached Kuwait on domestic visas. Hundreds of domestic visa-holders such as drivers, gardeners, male nurses, and cooks are working in other sectors such as super-markets, shops, small industries and construction sites. Most of them are Indians, Egyptians, Filipinos, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.

M.C. Najmuddin, a safety supervisor who is here on vacation, said dozens of Malayalis were among those arrested in the crackdown on a single day last week in Kuwait..He said it was easier to get a domestic visa than a work visa.

Domestic visa costs between 400 and 500 Kuwait Dinar, while the cost of a work visa is treble the amount.

Another Malayali engineer who reached Karipur from Kuwait on Thursday said on assurance of anonymity that over a dozen Malayalis had been rounded up by the police from Lulu Centre, one of the popular malls in Kuwait run by non-Kuwaitis, early this week.

Those arrested were sent to special jails forthwith, from where they were deported even without informing their sponsors.

The group that reached Delhi on Friday as part of the deportation of illegal immigrants by Kuwait was caught in several raids conducted in the last three weeks.