Saudi arrest: Udupi man’s kin seek help

Last Updated 23 December 2019, 19:03 IST

Family members of Harish Bangera, who was arrested in Saudi Arabia on charges of posting derogatory remarks on his Facebook page, have alleged that his account was hacked and sought the assistance of Udupi superintendent of police Nisha James to get him released.

Bangera, hailing from Kundapur, worked as an AC mechanic at Gulf Carton Factory in Saudi Arabia and was arrested on charges of posting defamatory statements against the Saudi King and Mecca, the holy pilgrim centre of Muslims, on Facebook.

Bangera was also terminated by his company.

Bangera’s wife Sumana M said, “Harish has not committed any mistake. Miscreants uploaded derogatory posts, which landed him in deep trouble.”

She also pleaded with the government to get her husband released. On December 19, screenshots of his Facebook page with a video related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act were forwarded to a few Muslim groups in Mangaluru.

“When I questioned him about the post, Harish said the post had landed him in trouble and he received threat calls. Later, Harish deleted the post after issuing an apology and deactivated his account on December 19,” she said.

Sumana told the police that a fake Facebook account was created on December 20 in Bangera’s name and defamatory posts against the Saudi King and Mecca were posted on the page.

“I filed a complaint to CEN (Cyber Crime, Economic Offices and Narcotics) police station at Udupi against the fake FB account on December 21. My husband, after seeking permission from his employers in Gulf Carton Factory Company, had gone to file a complaint and has been incommunicado since then.” Bangera’s employers also had posted the notice placing him under suspension on social media.

Diplomatic channels

Captain Manivannan, who holds additional charge as Secretary of Information and Public Relations tweeted that he had detailed discussions with officials from the Indian Embassy in Riyadh. “They are taking it up through diplomatic channels with utmost seriousness. However, it is going to be a long process. Let us hope for the best,” Captain Manivannan tweeted.

Deputy Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman on his Facebook post on Sunday had confirmed the arrest of Bangera. “Finally, the police arrested Harish Bangera for a hate speech against the Holy Kaaba. The company he works for had terminated him and made the arrest possible.”

(Published 23 December 2019, 18:41 IST)

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