‘Ignorance’ of Saudi law proves costly for four Hyderabadis

By   |  Published: 16th Sep 2020  12:02 amUpdated: 15th Sep 2020  11:16 pm

Jeddah: A Hyderabadi — who spent over five years in a Saudi jail for “unknowingly” carrying a prescribed drug in a parcel given to him by an acquaintance of a friend — was finally released and repatriated.

Mohammed Abdul Waheed, 37, a resident of Lunger House in Hyderabad, was arrested in January 2015 upon arrival in the Riyadh airport from Hyderabad for carrying sleeping pills. Apart from him, three others, including a wife and husband, all hailing from Hyderabad, were sentenced in this case.

A bank employee, Waheed travelled home to see his newborn baby and returned to Riyadh on January 27, 2015. The customs sleuths found that he was carrying some sleeping pills and arrested him. He pleaded that he was not aware of the contents of the parcel, which was given to him by a friend’s friend prior to his embarkation. The police arrested his friend, Moiz, a house driver, who had asked him to carry the parcel when he reached the airport. After questioning, Moiz told authorities that his friend, Shaikh Bader, had requested him to bring some medicine. Accordingly, Bader’s brother handed over the parcel that contained sleeping pills to Waheed’s father in Hyderabad.

Bader said that his wife, Hajra Begum, was suffering from some ailment and that she was required to use the pills. Since it was costly in Saudi Arabia, he arranged to bring them from Hyderabad. Upon investigation, it was found that she was not using any such medicine in the past.

The couple pleaded that they were not aware that importing this medicine is prohibited in Saudi Arabia and did not intend to sell it.

The court found all four guilty. Abdul Basit was sentenced to eight years, 800 lashes and one lakh Riyal penalty while Shaikh Bader and his wife were sentenced to five years each, 500 lashes and penalty of one lakh Riyals. Moiz Khan was sentenced to two and a half years and 300 lashes, all to be deported after completing their imprisonment.

The luck has healed them as Saudi Arabia King Salman pardoned prisoners on humanitarian grounds. They were covered under King amnesty, known as Affu Al Malki. Barring Shaikh Bader, all three were released from the prison before completing their full imprisonment term.

Among the three, Abdul Waheed was released recently who left for Hyderabad with the support of a prominent social worker, Shihab Kottukad.

The pills, BECALM of alprazolam, is a prescription drug used for the treatment of panic and anxiety disorders. Under the Saudi law, importing a substantial amount of prescription medications into the kingdom has to be accompanied by documents such as recent medical report issued by the patient’s medical care provider that clearly states the personal information of the patient, medical diagnosis treatment plan, medical recommendations and generic name of the prescription drugs, dosage and dosage form.

TS man stuck in UAE for 13 years returns

Dubai: A 47-year-old Telangana native who stayed in the UAE without any documents for over 13 years has been repatriated home after getting a waiver of half a million Dirhams (Rs 1,00,21,000) in visa dues.

Pothugonda Medi, a migrant labourer, approached the Indian Consulate here after he lost his job following the coronavirus outbreak.

Pothugonda told the Indian mission that he had come to the Gulf on a visit visa in 2007, however, his agent abandoned him soon after. The agent had not returned Medi’s passport.

The mission found it difficult to assist Medi as there were no documents to prove his citizenship. The consulate sought the help of a charity group in Hyderabad  to track down his family.

“With the support of a social worker, Srinivas, we managed to get the copies of his old ration card and election ID card from his native place. Some of the details that he gave were not matching, but still we could establish that he is an Indian,” Negi said.

After the consulate provided a free flight ticket to Medi, the officials applied under the UAE government’s visa expiration exemption scheme.

According to the scheme, expatriates whose visas have expired before March 1, 2020, can leave the country before November 17 without paying visa dues.

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