Forum demands justice for John Monteiro’s family

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Human Rights Protection Foundation (HRPF) president Ravindranath Shanbhag has demanded a probe into the suspicious death of Ravindranath Shanbhag, an air conditioner contractor in Saudi Arabia.

Speaking to reporters, he said Monteiro’s family should get suitable compensation. Neither the authorities in Saudi Arabia nor the Indian Embassy has given a proper reply regarding the death of Monteiro, he said. “John Monteiro underwent imprisonment for no fault of his. During his release, he died under suspicious circumstances. His death was unnatural,” he said.

Shanbhag demanded the authorities to reveal the reason for his imprisonment, cause of his death, postmortem report, copy of punishment, passport, details of his bank account, and insurance.

He said Monteiro was working in a petroleum refinery in Abu Dhabi. After a fire accident in the refinery, he started working in New Delhi where he married Ameena. Later in 2002, he went to Saudi for work. Monteiro’s family was confused when they lost contact with him in January 2014. When they received a call from Monteiro after several months, he told them that he did not know why he was imprisoned. He said that he was called to one of the jails for an air conditioning work and was arrested. He was denied permission to contact his friends and acquaintances for help. His efforts to contact the Indian Embassy went futile. After several months, he was produced before a court which in turn sentenced for five years in jail. Monteiro had informed the family as to how the jail staff used to torture him and was served sub-standard food. In spite of his poor health, his plea to take him to the hospital went unheard, Shanbagh said.

Ameena, Monteiro’s wife, said he was supposed to be released in June 2019. “We received the news of his death in February. With the efforts of the HRPF, the body was received by the family on November 27,” she said and added that the education of her children was affected because of their poor financial condition.

Karishma, Monteiro’s daughter, said that she had sent emails on her father’s plight to the prime minister and external affairs minister, but failed to get a proper response. “We want justice for my father,” she said with tears in her eyes.

Shanbhag said that the postmortem report has given rise to suspicions. “We thought of having a second postmortem in India after receiving the body. But we found that visceral organs had been removed and those portions were filled with cotton and formalin,” he said.

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