More than a year after an Indian worker was allegedly beaten to death by his Saudi employer, the Delhi High Court has directed the Indian Embassy in Riyadh to ensure that the body is transported to India “without any delay”.
Justice JR Midha directed the Indian Embassy to inform the authorities concerned in Saudi Arabia to ensure that Mohammed Afsar’s body is not buried there by his employer. Afsar’s Saudi employer was allegedly angry at him for seeking to return to India and had assaulted him, resulting in his death.
The court order came on a plea by Afsar’s 25-year-old widow asking for its intervention in bringing back the body of her husband, which has been lying in a mortuary in Riyadh for over a year.
Noushaba Bano from Jharkhand, filed the petition in the first week of April after the Centre failed to act on the Delhi High Court’s earlier order in December, directing the government to ensure that Afsar’s body was transported to India within four weeks. That order had come on a separate petition by Bano.
Saudi Arabia has the largest number of Indian passport holders outside India, most of them employed as blue collar workers. It has often been criticised for gross human rights violations and difficult working conditions for migrant workers. The Saudi government denies the charges.
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 March 3 last year.
In her petition, Bano quoted her husband’s co-workers as saying they were shown a video in which the employer was beating him “mercilessly”.
“By showing the said video, he threatened them of consequences which they (co-workers) may face if they ask for any leave,” she said in her petition.
Bano’s lawyer Jose Abraham said the Indian Embassy had issued a no objection certificate (NOC) to the employer, instead of the family, for release of the body from the mortuary.
“The family fears the employer may bury the body of the deceased in Saudi Arabia in order to erase further evidence related to his death,” Abraham added.