A 25-year-old woman is pinning her hopes on a contempt petition filed at the Delhi high court to bring back the body of her husband who was allegedly beaten to death by his Saudi employer more than a year ago.
Noushaba Bano, hailing from Jharkhand, filed the petition in the first week of April after the Centre failed to act on an order from the same court in December, directing the Indian government to ensure that Mohammed Afsar’s body was transported to India within four weeks. The earlier 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. The oil-rich country is often criticised for human rights violations and difficult working conditions for migrant workers, a charge its government denies.
“The government has done nothing (so far). So we have moved a contempt petition,” Bano’s lawyer Jose Abraham told HT on Wednesday. Taking up the petition on April 8, the court sought a status report from the Centre before April 19.
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. The Saudi employer was allegedly angry at Afsar for seeking to return to India. 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,” the petition said.
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 fear the employer may bury the body of the deceased in Saudi Arabia in order to erase further evidence related to his death,” Abraham added.