Noushaba Bano, a 25-year-old woman is pinning her hopes on a contempt petition filed at the Delhi high court to bring back the body of her husband who was allegedly killed by his employer in Saudi Arabia.
27-year-old Mohammed Afsar Ansari, hailing from Jharkhand, was allegedly beaten to death by his Saudi employer more than a year ago, apparently after he wanted to come back to India.
Assaulted for seeking to return to India
Afsar was working as a bulldozer operator in Riyadh for two years before he was allegedly assaulted by his employer, leading to his death on 3rd March last year.
When she learnt of her husband’s death in March last year, Noushaba Bano moved the Delhi High Court through her counsel Jose Abraham, seeking directions to get Afsar’s body sent to India.
In her petition, Noushaba Bano states that her husband, along with other two workers, were taken by force and thrashed for expressing their wish to return home.
“We got to know from his colleagues that they hit him hard and he succumbed to his injuries. They even shot a video and showed it to other employees to intimidate them so that they never speak of returning to India,” said Ansari’s brother, Mukhtar.
Wife’s legal battle for mortal remains
The High Court in December directed the Government of India and the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia to ensure that Ansari’s mortal remains are sent to India as expeditiously as possible, preferably in a month’s time.
Bano filed another petition this month after the Centre failed to act on the previous order.
Speaking on non-compliance on the part of the government, Bano’s advocate Jose Abraham told court that the employer has been issued a no-objection certificate instead of the petitioner and the family’s apprehension is that the employer would bury the body instead of releasing it to his family.
“As per the usual practice, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would not keep the body for more than a year,” he told court.
Taking up the petition on April 8, the court sought a status report from the Centre before April 19.
Indian embassy engaged since March 2016
Official sources from Indian Government said Indian Embassy in Riyadh had assisted the brother of the deceased in filing a complaint with the Bureau of Investigation (BoI) about Ansari’s death.
“Following the assistance to Afsar’s brother in filing a complaint, our embassy officials visited the BoI several times between April and December 2015. With great difficulty and against usual practice, we managed to persuade BoI to agree to a second postmortem and another investigation,” the sources said.
In March, India requested the Saudi foreign ministry to share the outcome of the second postmortem investigation and has been awaiting the full details of that report, the sources added.
“The most pertinent aspect of the matter is that for the mortal remains to be brought back to India or to be buried in Saudi Arabia, the consent of the family is a must,” a source said.
The family has been urged to complete the remaining paperwork and convey their consent for the return of the body. “The Indian mission continues to provide all necessary assistance for this,” the source added.
Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Indian passport holders outside India, most of them employed as blue collar workers.
The oil-rich country is often criticised for human rights violations and difficult working conditions for migrant workers, a charge its government denies.
– Mohamed Faisal / NRICafe.com (with inputs from Agencies)