Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): A youth Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh--who went on a pilgrimage to Mecca, had to spend eight months in Saudi Arabia's jail and was fed only two breads twice a day. If this was not enough, he was punished with 99 lashes. All this, only because he got himself clicked-- holding a poster of 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', in front of the Haram Mosque in Mecca.
According to Dainik Bhaskar report, the youth, identified as Raza Qadri (27), president of Niwari Youth Congress said that during his eight month-long confinement he was given only two breads in the morning and evening and was not allowed to sleep all night long.
Qadri finally returned to India on October 4 with the help of the Congress party and his family.
While Qadri’s family has alleged that the Indian Embassy did not help them, he also blamed that the IT cell of an Indian political party sent several e-mails labelling him as a political agent, to the Saudi Intelligence Agency.
Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) national secretary Tejinder Bagga also made a post on X (formerly Twitter) regarding the matter on Thursday.
He wrote, “Congress leader Raja Kadri got a two-month sentence and received 99 lashes as punishment for insulting Kaba with a Congress poster.”
However, he deleted the post within a few hours.
'Indian Embassy did not help'
Raza had reportedly gone on Hajj on January 21 with his grandmother Shaheeda Begum. His group had 72 people in total and they had booked a tour package from Al Ansar Tour and Travels of Jhansi for Rs 2 lakh.
On January 25, Raza had clicked a picture with the poster of Bharat Jodo Yatra and another with the tricolour in front of the Haram Mosque. At night, some people knocked on the door of his hotel room and then took him to jail.
According to Qadri, the travelling company’s agent gave his details to the Saudi officials.
After this, Raza clarified everything regarding the Tricolor and Bharat Jodo Yatra poster. He admitted that he had committed the mistake due to lack of knowledge of the rules in the foreign country. He said that he is ready to remove the photo from social media. Police asked Raza to present an NOC letter, his visa and passport to the visa company for verification after which he will be released. Raza talked to the traveling agent but his traveling agent did not come.
Meanwhile, suddenly some of his videos reached the Saudi police. These were those videos in which Raza was seen in a political rally. The policemen told Raza that he is a political agent. He denied the charges. But, after getting the videos, the police started dealing strictly with him.
'Was mentally tortured'
Talking about his hardships, Raza said, “I was first taken to the Central Jail of Dhahban. There I remained locked in a dark room for two months. In the name of food, some jail guy used to leave two pieces of bread for me every morning and evening. After a few days the jailer there came to me. He made me talk to my family. Instructed to just tell the family that I am in jail, I am fine, I am eating and drinking well. I stayed in this jail for six months. I was interrogated for two months. I was made to sit in a room all night long.”
“The police used to verify every answer of mine with a lie detector machine. Before the test, I was given a chemical to drink. This would make me sleep, but they would not let me sleep. They used to keep me awake by throwing water on my mouth. They tortured me mentally a lot. For two months I neither saw the sun nor anyone's face. My mental status deteriorated so much that I had to be taken to a psychiatrist. Luckily he turned out to be an Indian. He suggested the jailer put me in a normal cell. Two days later I was shifted to the normal cell,” he added.
After being kept in Dhahban for six months, Raza was sent to Shumaisi Detention Centre.
Police found no evidence
While investigating the case, Saudi police did not find any concrete evidence against Raza. The videos which were sent to intelligence were examined by the police. It was proved that they posed no threat to Saudi Arabia. With the help of an agent sent by the Congress party, the paperwork was expedited, after which he was released. Raza finally got freedom after eight months. Saudi police came to drop him at the airport on 3 October.