A 35-year-old man from Nilenga taluka of Latur district has apparently been lodged in a Riyadh jail of Saudi Arabia for nine months now after his vehicle was involved in a road accident.
Faced with severe financial crunch, the family of Gaffurchand Shaikh, who had been working as a driver in Riyadh, has now sought the help of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, urging him to speak to Saudi envoys in India to secure his release.
Last week, the family of Gaffurchand Shaikh – his wife Taslim Shaikh (30) and three school-going children — met the Chief Minister in Nilenga taluka of Latur district where Fadnavis had come to take stock of the drought situation in Marathwada. “I handed over a memorandum to the Chief Minister urging him to help us in getting my husband released,” said Taslim Shaikh.
The CM took the memorandum from Taslim Shaikh and heard her grievance briefly. “I managed to hand over the memorandum to the CM. He in turn handed it over to officials accompanying him. Even as I was narrating him my plight, he moved ahead but nodded his head, apparently promising to look into it. But I don’t know whether he has found time to go through my applications,” said Taslim, who lives with her children in Vadi Shidol village of Nilenga taluka and works as a farm labourer.
Taslim said her husband left for Saudi Arabia two years ago to work with a transport contractor. “But nine months ago, he called up from a jail in Riyadh telling me he had been arrested after he was involved in a road accident which resulted in damage to another vehicle. He told me he had not caused any loss of life, but still he was not been released,” said Taslim.
Jalil Yakub Shaikh, uncle of Taslim, said that after every few days, jail authorities in Riyadh allowed Guffarchand to call up his family so that he could make arrangements for his bail.
“Every time, he desperately pleads with us that we should make arrangements for his bail. We do not know what to do to secure his release on bail. His immediate family does not have a penny to even travel to Mumbai,” said Jalil Shaikh.
The family says they have sought help from local officials and politicians, but nothing has happened. “Nobody has been able to help us… Now we are resting our hopes on CM. We hope he talks to Saudi officials and envoy in India to secure Gaffurchand’s release,” said Jalil.
According to Jalil, after Guffarchand’s truck hit the car of a local resident, it suffered small damage. “That is what Guffar has told us. But the man is demanding Rs 25 lakh for the damages,” he said.
Taslim Shaikh works as a farm labour, earning around Rs 100 per day.
“My earning is just not enough to sustain our family. We have really been hard-pressed to survive. We have relatives in Latur, but can’t keep on begging from them,” she said.
When contacted, officials in the CMO said they were looking into the matter and would initiate appropriate action for securing the release of the Latur man.