Udupi Man Held for Abusing Saudi King, Calling for Ram Mandir in Mecca; Family Seeks MEA Help

CNN-News18

Bengaluru: A man from Udupi in coastal Karnataka has been arrested in Saudi Arabia for allegedly posting derogatory comments on Facebook, following which pictures of his apprehension have gone viral.

The man, identified as Harish Bangera, had allegedly abused the Saudi King through his Facebook account and even uploaded provocative posts calling Hindus to unite to build a Ram Mandir in Mecca, the holiest place for Muslims.

However, soon after the images of him being escorted in uniform by Saudi officials began circulating on social media, his family claimed his Facebook account had been “hacked”, labelling the allegations against him as “false”.

Bangera was working as an AC mechanic at a factory in Saudi Arabia and hails from Kundapur in Udupi.

His family has also sought the intervention of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). “Harish has not committed any mistake. Miscreants uploaded derogatory posts, which landed him in deep trouble,” Bangera’s wife Sumana M told reporters.

“When I questioned him about the post, Harish said the post had landed him in trouble and he received threat calls. Later, Harish deleted the post after issuing an apology and deactivated his account on December 19,” she added.

Later on Tuesday, MEA officials said Bangera has been kept at the Al Youn police station of Al Hasa city in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province. "The matter is under investigation and he has not been formally charged as yet," they said.

The officials said that the embassy has deputed a Second Secretary to visit Al Hasa on Wednesday to meet Bangera and police authorities there to find out the status of the case. "The embassy has also approached the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs seeking consular access to meet him," they said.

Meanwhile, Udupi MP Shobha Karandlaje told CNN-News 18 that she has spoken to the Foreign Ministry. “There is no clarity on what charges he has been booked under,” Karandlaje said.

Besides, an IAS officer from Karnataka, Manivannan, who has been pursuing this case with the Ministry, tweeted that the Indian embassy in Riyadh has taken up the matter through diplomatic channels.

"However it will be a long process. Let's hope for the best," he tweeted.

He had earlier pointed out that laws in Saudi are very strict so it may be very difficult to help Bangera.