Jeddah: An Indian woman’s patriotic gesture of holding the national tricolour in a holy Islamic shrine proved costly for her as she had to spend five days behind bars for her show of affection towards her motherland. Unaware of the rules, Indians sometimes land in serious legal trouble in foreign countries and are subjected to bitter experiences.
The woman, who hails from Pune, along with her husband and children, was arrested for displaying the Indian national flag in holy Haram in Mecca and had to spend five days in jail before being released. The NRI family, living in Riyadh visited Mecca last week to perform Umrah. After completing the rituals in the early hours when the crowd of worshippers was relatively low, the family decided to take a photograph with the Holy Kaba in the background and displaying the Indian national flag, sources said.
Even as they were taking the keepsake picture, police reached the spot and apprehended the entire family and shifted them to a police station, sources added. Later, after preliminary investigations, the husband and children were released but the wife was detained since she was holding the flag.
The husband, a top executive with a leading firm, frantically ran around for help and the children were in shock. On coming to know about the incident, a team from the Indian consulate rushed to Mecca to assist and guide the distraught husband. They did rounds of various government agencies to find out about the charges and case status.
Since the photo was not posted on any social media platform and the family pleading innocence and unaware of the rules, the Saudi authorities released the woman, five days after her arrest, family sources said. The family had purchased the Indian national flag online last month to celebrate India’s Independence Day in their upmarket residential compound in Riyadh. The flag was placed in the woman’s handbag which the family discovered while going through their bags after Umrah, they said. Indian diplomats have cautioned their compatriots not to display any type of flag inside the Haram area and to comply with local rules.
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