07 May 2006 # IANS
By Sanu George, Kollam (Kerala): Naushad, the Indian national who was released after a three-year-long imprisonment in Saudi Arabia for assaulting and damaging the eyes of a Saudi national, has only good words for his jailors there.
"Contrary to the stories I have heard from those who spend time in jails in India and other countries, my three years in the Dammam jail was one I would remember for the rest of my life," Naushad said.
Naushad had in April 2004 bruised the eye of a Saudi national in a scuffle after a verbal duel between the two over a petty dispute. Subsequently, as the Saudi lost his eyesight, Naushad was arrested and sent to jail on April 24, 2003.
According to Saudi Arabian law, one of Naushad's eyes could be gouged out for "justice". But he was pardoned and released on April 4, 2006, after media outcry in India.
Naushad recalled that his stay in jail was fine and he had no problems there at all.
"The jail compound was a huge area and had all the facilities. In one cell there are 12 rooms and in one room there are 12 prisoners, all were given a bed. …in every room there are two air conditioners. And in every cell there is one television and we could watch all the programmes," Naushad told IANS.
He said most of the time he spent reading the Quran and, unlike other jails, no work is assigned to the prisoners at all.
"The prisoners either play chess, cards without any stakes or watch TV and also sit and chat with one another all through the day. We were given good food. And in the evening those who like to play outdoor games also get a chance," he said.
"Every month every prisoner is given 50 Saudi rials and with that we go to the supermarket inside the jail and we buy things. We are also given a heater inside the cell and we are allowed to cook also".
Regarding the behaviour of jail authorities, he said all of them are Saudi nationals and they treat each prisoner with dignity and respect.
"The day previous to my release they gave me a send-off where a small party was held to celebrate my release," he said.
He said that since he was given an exit visa the rules in Saudi Arabia do not permit a re-entry for another three years.
"I have not decided what to do next. Let me spend some time with my youngest daughter who is three-year-old and whom I saw for the first time when I reached here last month. The state government has assured me of help," said Naushad.
Naushad has eyes only for daughter – Back from the brink
JOHN MARY, Friday, April 07, 2006, The Telegraph, Culcutta,
Thiruvananthapuram, April 6: When he saw his little daughter, Abdul Lateef Naushad knew god had spared his eyes for this special moment.
The 34-year-old, who saw his daughter for the first time today, had been slapped with an-eye-for-an-eye sentence after he partially blinded a Saudi youth in a scuffle three years ago.
He was released from a Dammam prison yesterday and arrived here this morning. Chief minister Oommen Chandy, his wife Mariamma Chandy and Naushad’s family received him at the airport.
But his eyes — sparkling with new life — sought out the loveliest face in the crowd. Asna, who wasn’t born when her father left for the oil kingdom three-and-a-half years ago, was clinging to her mother Suhaila. Naushad took her in his arms, eyes filled with tears.
Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia M..H. Farook said Naushad was directly taken to Dammam airport from jail and put on the flight home.
He had been behind bars for 1,100 days after being charged with punching Saudi computer professional Naif Al-Otaibi in his right eye, leading to partial loss of vision. The scuffle over a battery charger occurred on April 1, 2003, at the petrol pump near Dammam where Naushad used to work.
The penalty slapped on him by a Dammam court was an eye. However, on appeal, a higher court in Saudi capital Riyadh directed the parties to find a compromise, Naushad told reporters today.
The royal clemency came when Otaibi pardoned Naushad and after the Indian government and his wife and mother sent a flood of petitions to King Abdullah during his visit to India earlier this year.
Naushad said he owed his release to the efforts of Indian and Saudi officials, and especially his sponsor.
“My sponsor has been sending money and trying to take care of my family here in all possible ways.”
Naushad arrived this morning in true NRI-style, bags packed with goodbye gifts from friends. But the one baggage he wished he had left behind was the memory of his ordeal in prison and the fear of losing an eye.
With “exit” stamped on his passport, Naushad may not be able to go back to Saudi Arabia in the next two years. Not that he is complaining. “I want to spend some time with my family,” he said.
Naushad’s wife said she was relieved to have her husband back. “I thank Allah first. Everybody was too kind to us and I have gratitude for all of them.”
Naushad had been living in Saudi Arabia for seven years and was the sole breadwinner of his family comprising his parents, wife and two children.
Chandy promised to lend him a hand in rebuilding his life. “We’re ready to help him go abroad if that’s what he plans to do or if he wants to stay back, the government will do all that is possible for his rehabilitation.”
Chandy accused of appeasing minorities
Apr 08, 2006, KOCHI: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) State secretary A.N. Radhakrishnan has accused Chief Minister Oommen Chandy of appeasing minorities in the run-up to the elections.Saying that a warm reception was given in Thiruvananthapuram to Naushad, a Malayali released from jail in Saudi Arabia, Mr. Radhakrishnan said the Government failed to respond suitably when the body of Maniappan, a Malayali killed in Afghanistan, was brought home a few months ago.
This `discriminatory attitude' smacked of favouritism towards minorities, he said.He said the United Democratic Front and the Left Democratic Front (LDF) were demanding the release of the People's Democratic Party leader Abdul Nasir Maudany from jail, while both the fronts were mum on the release of those arrested in the Marad case. He also urged the Government to release the report submitted by an inquiry commission that looked into the Marad carnage.
Mr. Radhakrishnan found fault with successive governments for allowing representatives of minorities to handle the portfolio of education.