Last week an Indian migrant posted a tearful message on YouTube making desperate plea for repatriation in India.
35-year’-old Abdul Sattar Makandar’s video was posted on activist Kundan Srivastava’s Facebook page before it went viral.
Makandar says he was recruited by a Saudi company two years ago to work as a driver there. But, soon after arriving in Saudi, he realised he had been misled and many of the promises made to him by the agent weren’t fulfilled.
The father of four said that he wanted to be evacuated out of the country and be reunited with his family back in India.
No sooner did Srivastava posted his desperate appeal on his Facebook page, it caused considerable outcry on social media prompting Makandar’s employer to ‘bully’ the activist to delete the video and issue an apology.
But before they contacted the activist forcing him to delete the video and replace it with apology, Saudi authorities had already arrested Makandar on charges of ‘spread of misinformation,’ which is a criminal act in Saudi Arabia.
Srivastava says he apologised and deleted the video primarily to ensure Makandar’s release atrocities against him to stop.
His apology read, ” Yes! I’m a human rights activist, believe a human is my family member and humanity is my family. I apologies on behalf of Abdul Sattar Makandar, and myself to company Al Suroor United Group, Saudi Arabia.
I deleted the Video now which was uploaded on my official page and would urge the company authorities to forgive Abdul Sattar Makandar mistakes which had done according to your rules and regulations.”
Srivastava was quoted by Washington Post as saying that his apology resulted in Makandar’s release, but he was rearrested the following morning on unknown charges.
Makandar’s mother has made several attempts to find her son’s whereabouts but has been unsuccessful.
She told The Hindu, “The last I spoke to him was five days ago, his friends informed me he is in prison.”
Al Suroor United Group, for its part, has denied all charges. The company told BBC that Makandar was being paid on time.
Now the desperate family is looking at the external affairs minister, Sushma Swaraj, for urgent intervention.
Swaraj tweeted on Tuesday saying that the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia had sent her a report with a comprehensive reply from the company.
She said, “Abdul Sattar Makandar – Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia has sent me a report with a comprehensive reply from the Company. Please let us handle this matter at the diplomatic level.”
Swaraj had earned plaudits for rescuing a migrant from Uttar Pradesh, who had posted similar video from Saudi Arabia in January. In Less than a week after Akash had posted his video, Swaraj’s swift intervention had seen him fly back to India.
Makandar’s family hopes that the external affairs minister makes similar intervention with equal seriousness on this occasion too.