Yesterday, an Indian technician named Harish Bangera who is a resident of Udipi, Karnataka working in Saudi Arabian city of Dammam had found himself in trouble over his Facebook post regarding the Muslim pilgrimage site of Mecca. He was reportedly arrested over his remark and also sacked from his job.
Today, his wife Sumana Bangera has claimed that a fake account was created in her husband’s name on December 20 and the alleged ‘blasphemous’ posts were made from that account.
“At 1 am on December 20, someone created a fake account of my husband and posted the message about the temple to be built in Mecca. Screenshots of this were taken and shared in WhatsApp groups. When I received it, I called my husband and asked him about it but he was shocked and unaware of the post. He told me it’s a fake account,” Sumana told The News Minute.
“But the messages kept spreading. The screenshots came with a message that it should keep getting shared until it reached the Saudi police,” Sumana said.
Harish’s wife claimed that her husband was being targetted for sharing a video of the CAA protest in Mangaluru on Facebook. Harish allegedly began receiving threatening messages on Facebook, after which she advised him to put out an apology to avoid trouble, claimed Sumana.
Harish has expressed his remorse over the posts uploaded by him. In a video, Harish can be seen beseeching forgiveness from Muslims for his Facebook post. In the video, he says, “I have committed a mistake. Please forgive me. I will never upload any such posts again. I have faced a lot of difficulties prior to coming to Dammam. I seek forgiveness from my Muslim brothers. I am facing problems with my company. Please forgive me.” However, it could not be ascertained when was the video made.
After Harish was arrested, his employers too axed him from the job with immediate effect. A Facebook post that has now gone viral, allegedly from the employers of Harish, condemned the posts made by Harish as ‘objectionable’ and said that they have decided to terminate him from the job citing his unethical posts as a justification for their decision.
On the same evening, Sumana filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime police in Udupi about the issue. “They said that they would find out who created the account and report it to the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia. I hope my husband comes back safely,” Sumana said.
Many people on social media had also pointed out that the Facebook account which posted allegedly blasphemous messages was in use only from December 20. Harish has another profile which he has been using for years.
On Saturday, December 21, Harish had allegedly uploaded a picture of Kaaba in Mecca with the caption that “Next Ram Temple in Mecca. Be ready for the fight”. Soon, the post elicited hundreds of comments, shares and came to the notice of the Saudi authorities after a complaint was registered against Harish accusing him of blasphemy. He was arrested by the Saudi police within an hour of receiving the complaint.
The News Minute’s report also mentioned that the Indian Embassy in Riyadh and the Ministry of External Affairs in India are aware of the development. The Embassy officials are also reportedly taking up the issue with a legal counsellor.
In a similar incident, a doctor from Kerala, who was working at a private hospital in Doha, has said that he had to quit his job and flew back home following an uproar over his comments on the social media in favour of the new citizenship law.
Dr Ajith Sreedharan, an orthopaedic specialist, who had been in Doha for the last 11 years, had supported the new law in his Facebook post and denounced the protests against it.
The doctor said that though he had not insulted anyone in his post, his opinion created a major uproar on social media and he had to pay back by losing his job.
“There were calls in social media to boycott the hospital. I was told that people from Kerala were behind the campaign. When I realised that a mob would target an institution, I conveyed my decision to quit and return,’’ he said.