Hindu man, who spent 2 years in Saudi jail for fake FB post created by Islamists, to be released

An innocent Hindu man, who was framed by two Muslim men and was forced to spend two years in a Saudi jail on charges of blasphemy, is finally set to walk free. Harish Bangera hails from Karnataka and has been in a Saudi prison since December 2019. President of Mangaluru Association Saudi Arabia (MASA) Sathish Kumar Bajal issued a statement confirming his release while adding that his return ticket home has been sponsored by the association.

It has come to light that two brothers from Moodabidri named Abdul Huyez and Abdul Thuyez impersonated the Hindu man and created a fake Facebook (FB) account in his name. The two then posted derogatory comments against the Saudi crown prince as well as the Islamic holy site Mecca. Following this, the Saudi police swung into action and took Bangera into custody for the comments.

An OpIndia report on the issue says:

Harish Bangera, who hails from Kundapur, worked as an AC technician in Damman, Saudi Arabia. On December 21, a series of Facebook posts were uploaded allegedly from his purported Facebook account abusing and mocking Islam and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince. One such post was a picture of Kaaba in Mecca with the caption, “Next Ram Temple in Mecca. Be ready for a fight”.

Soon, the post went viral, eliciting a strong response, which also came to the notice of the Saudi authorities after a complaint was registered against Harish accusing him of blasphemy. The Saudi police arrested him within an hour of receiving the complaint. After Harish was arrested, his employers had also removed him from the job with immediate effect.

In the meanwhile, Harish’s wife registered a complaint with the Udupi police as Harish alleged a conspiracy to frame him. During the course of the investigation, the police uncovered the involvement of the two Abduls. They also learned that it was these two who had created a fake account in Bangera’s name on 19 December 2019 and uploaded the blasphemous content.

The phone used to create the account was traced to Abdul Thuyez who was then arrested along with his brother. The police subsequently registered a case of impersonation against the two. Furthermore, a translated copy of the chargesheet was made available to the Saudi authorities through the External Affairs Ministry and Bharat’s embassy in Saudi so as to secure the release of Bangera.

The case brings forth the point as to how blasphemy laws can be easily misused and how Hindus are frequently targeted using such dreaded laws. Another Hindu man, Vishnu Dev Radhakrishnan who is the son of an ex-airforce officer from Kerala, has been languishing in a Saudi jail since June 2018. As per available information, Vishnu was imprisoned under Saudi’s blasphemy laws even though he had only replied to a Muslim woman’s mocking jibe of Hindu deity Bhagwan Shiva. 

Swarajya Mag quotes Vishnu’s father Radhakrishnan Nair as saying:

“During one of their conversations on Twitter, the woman spoke something against Lord Shiva. To counter her argument, he [Vishnu] tweeted something against prophet Mohammed and asked if her god is merciful, why were Yemen schools bombed,’ Vishnu’s father, Radhakrishnan Nair, told The News Minute.

He further said the tweets might have passed through Saudi Aramco’s servers and they may have taken screenshots and alerted the police. Prior to his arrest in June 2018 by the Saudi police, Vishnu was detained and questioned by Saudi Aramco’s security, claimed the father.

“The officials at his company told him that he might be deported, and detained him there instead of sending him to the Indian embassy. He was held at the office for 15 days on the assurance that he will be sent back home but they cheated him,” he was quoted as saying.

“His company could have handed him over to the embassy and avoided this punishment,” Radhakrishnan Nair was quoted in the report.

In June this year, Shri Nair tweeted “Tomorrow is the day remembered with utter sadness and worry, the day my innocent son was arrested by the Saudi police on 8 .6. 18 and since then I and wife along with his younger sister are praying for his release”.

OpIndia quotes Shri Nair as saying that a few Malayali Muslims have been pressurizing Vishnu to convert to Islam in a bid to get his sentence reduced. “Some Malayali Muslims tried to convert him to Islam. They told him that if he does so, his sentence might be reduced. But my son is mentally strong. He told them he would rather serve 10 years than change his religion” emphasized Nair.

Although Vishnu’s father has been running from pillar to post and has already written several emails and posted several tweets, Vishnu’s case hasn’t moved forward. Three years on, justice has eluded this young Hindu man with no signs of respite.

A member of Malayali social organization Navayugam while commenting on the case said “his company did not take any responsibility for his actions. Also, the Indian Embassy ignored his case and did not give him any help“. The Bharatiya embassy is yet to act not just in Vishnu’s case but also in that of Bharatiya student Vishal Jood’s case who is languishing in an Australian jail for “suspected hate crimes”.

EAM S Jaishankar is believed to have given assurance of Jood’s release at the earliest after Haryana CM ML Khattar raised the issue of Jood being targeted by anti-national Khalistani elements. A statement released from the CM’s office said 24-years old Jood was innocent and was jailed following a “conspiracy from anti-national forces” since he opposed anti-Bharat elements for Tricolour’s sake.

Vishal Jood (24), a native of Haryana who went to Australia to study, was arrested on 16 April in Sydney for his alleged involvement in three ‘suspected hate crimes’. He has been denied bail and has been assaulted by a prison guard while in captivity according to his lawyer.

The 3 attacks that Vishal has been accused of occurred on 16 September 2020, and 14 and 28 February this year. All the alleged victims are believed to be Sikhs, most of them students from Bharat, except that they don’t like to be called Bharatiya or Indian. They prefer going with their religious identity, try to appropriate the Punjabi identity entirely for themselves. and support the idea of Khalistan, a separate country they want to carve out from Bharat but which surprisingly doesn’t include any part of Pakistani Punjab.

Vishal’s father has been attempting to gain consular access for his son but to no avail. The Bharatiya High Commission in Australia has also not yet responded to the Bharatiya diaspora’s requests. “One of the members of the Indian diaspora had expressed his disappointment over the reluctance of the Indian High Commission to stand for the interests of the Indians. He claimed that the authorities are showing any interest in releasing Vishal Jood or seeking consular access” reported OpIndia.

Shouldn’t Bharat be more proactive in securing the release of its innocent citizens who are being targeted for their faith and patriotism? Doesn’t this reflect poorly on Bharat’s diplomatic channels?

(Featured Image Source: OpIndia)


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