Usmane Ghani, an Indian doctor from Bangalore working in a military hospital at Riyadh, has been detained by the Saudi Arabian police at the behest of the Indian government, alleged his grieving mother Fathima Khan today.
"I got a call from his wife Rashida on October 8 that my son was picked up by the Saudi police from home without giving any reason and he has been under detention since then," the 55-year-old Fathima told IANS.
Ghani, 36, went to Saudi Arabia in late 2008 to join the National Guard hospital at Riyadh as an anaesthetist after working for three years at St John's Hospital and then for three months at the Apollo Hospital in Bangalore. He also worked earlier at Seventh Day Adventist Hospital at Ottapalam in Kerala for 10 months.
Rashida joined Ghani a couple of months later when she got a visa, and the couple have been living in Riyadh since then.
"Though I have written to the Indian embassy to help us know Ghani's whereabouts and on what charges he was detained, there has been no response so far," Fathima said.
Efforts by Rashida to find out from the Saudi government where her husband had been kept also did not yield any result.
"We have no information about Ghani's whereabouts. Only once Ghani called Rashida a week ago and spoke a few sentences. He did not tell where and how he was but told her to offer namaz
(prayers) daily and to not worry," Fathima said in choked voice, recalling her recent conversation with her daughter-in-law.
Bangalore police, however, denied having any information about Ghani's detention in Saudi Arabia.
"We have no information about his detention in Saudi Arabia. We can't comment on what his mother (Fathima) is alleging or claiming. You have to find out from the authorities concerned," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) B Dayanand told IANS.
Fathima and her younger son Mustafa Khan, a hardware engineer working at a private firm in Bangalore, are shocked at the "silence" of the Indian government and the indifference of its embassy in providing consular access to Ghani, though the news about his detention was telecast on a Saudi channel the whole day (October 8).
She noted that the state police had summoned her son in early 2008 when he was in Bangalore after some men were picked up in Hubli, about 410 km from Bangalore, for allegedly planning a terror attack and was questioned.
"Police had threatened Ghani of ruining his career if he did not cooperate with the state intelligence agencies. As there was no evidence of his involvement in any anti-national activity, he was cleared and allowed to go to Saudi Arabia," Fathima said.
Accusing the authorities of framing her "innocent" son without proof, she said her family was also being harassed as her second son (Mustafa) too was not spared by the police in questioning about the terror plans, even though he had no connection with such elements.
"We live in constant fear of being summoned or questioned by police as we are under surveillance since a fortnight. I am worried about Ghani's safety and welfare of his wife though they have no children yet," Fathima noted.
Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) coordinator Irshad Ahmed said the family would soon file a habeas corpus petition in the Karnataka High Court if the Indian government did not act to find out Ghani's whereabouts and reasons for his detention.
"We are waiting for a response from the Indian embassy or the Saudi government on Ghani's fate and what was the crime for his being suddenly picked up from his house in Riyadh," Ahmed told IANS.
A desperate Fathima made a fervent appeal to the Indian government to provide consular access to Ghani, arrange a lawyer to represent him in Saudi Arabia, disclose reasons for his detention and provide her a visa to meet her son there.