A former Air Force officer from Kerala has been unsuccessfully pleading the Indian government and key opposition leaders seeking their help in getting his son from Saudi Arabia deported, as per various reports.
Radhakrishnan Nair’s son, Vishnu Dev Radhakrishnan has been imprisoned in Saudi since June 2018 for questioning the Prophet when a London-based Muslim woman he had met on social media mocked his Hindu god. Vishnu has been sentenced to prison for ten years under the kingdom’s blasphemy laws.
He was initially sentenced to five years in September 2018 and fined approximately Rs 28,50,000, but when the prosecution appealed the sentence, it was increased to ten years with a fine of Rs 30,00,000.
As per a letter from the Consular, Passport and Visa Division of the Ministry of External Affairs to his parents, Vishnu was arrested for “cybercrime pertaining to blasphemy and spreading messages against the Kingdom through social media.”
Vishnu, 26, was employed as an engineer at Nasser S Al-Hajri Corporation, an industrial contractor working with several energy sector giants including the state-run Saudi Aramco. As per his father, Vishnu befriended a London-based Muslim woman on social media.
“During one of their conversations on Twitter, the woman spoke something against lord Shiva. To counter her argument, he [Vishnu] tweeted something against prophet Mohammed and asked if her god is merciful, why were Yemen schools bombed,’ Vishnu’s father, Radhakrishnan Nair, .
He further said the tweets might have passed through Saudi Aramco’s servers and they may have taken screenshots and alerted the police. Prior to his arrest in June 2018 by the Saudi police, Vishnu was detained and questioned by Saudi Aramco’s security, claimed the father.
“The officials at his company told him that he might be deported, and detained him there instead of sending him to the Indian embassy. He was held at the office for 15 days on the assurance that he will be sent back home but they cheated him,” he was quoted as saying.
“His company could have handed him over to the embassy and avoided this punishment,” Radhakrishnan Nair was quoted in the report.
The family has since knocked all doors ranging from the external affairs ministry, the Indian embassy at Riyadh, and leaders from parties across the aisle, including external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, member of parliament Shashi Tharoor, the Bharatiya Janata Party Kerala president Sreedharan Pillai, and former chief minister Oommen Chandy, but to no avail, as per the family.
Swarajya reached out to both the external affairs ministry and the Indian embassy at Riyadh regarding Vishnu’s incarceration and detention by Saudi Aramco and denial to consular access prior to his official arrest, but has not received a response. The story shall be updated as and when we receive a response.