SO far, the news of atrocities on Hindus used to come only from our neighbouring countries--Pakistan and Bangladesh-- and we perhaps remained unaware of the maltreatment meted out to Hindus in other Muslim countries. Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with some Hindus, who,in January1986, left India for Dehran in Saudi Arabia,the kingdom of King Khalid,on a two-year service contract with M/s Dallah Group, Riyadh,KSA--but before completing the said contract returned to India in sheer frustration.
On asking about their living there,they told a very sordid stroy. They were asked to work in the military regime ofKing Khalid, where they were not allowed to come out of their apartments after 8pm; if anyone was found violating rules and regulations, he had to face rigorous imprisonment, they were specifically told.
Instead of providing them good food,they were given half-boiled rice,chapattis(Khabus) like that given to prisoners etc. Four da a week they were suplied non-vegetarian dish,in which for two days beef was served. Thus Hindus,250 in number,objected to it alongwith some 300 Pakistanies. Sri Lankans,about 2500 in number,did accept beef dish, but Pakistanis said it would be better if mutton was served at least once instead of supplying beef for two days. But their voice got drowned in Arabian sands.
During their ten-month service-tenure, they had to face a very crucial day, when one of their colleagues, Ram Kumar was put behind the bars and awaded three months' rigorous imprisonment for having a copy of "Satyartha Prakasha". In jail, he was given only one-time meal and was kept on remand. After this incident, all the Hindu apartments used to be raided by the securitymen. During raids,every belonging of theirs was checked lest they should be having any religious book or a picture of any one of their god or goddesses. The securitymen were cruel and they used to say,"Kafir! is zamin par Allah ke alawa kisi aur ka nam lene ki jurrat ki to tarap tarap kar jan se hath dhona padega..."(You infidel, if you show the audacity to take anybody else's name excepting that of Allah, you would be tortured to death.)
Narrating their harrowing tale they further said, "instead of giving any special leave during any Hindu festival, we were strictly watched by securitymen. Every letter of a Hindu was opened by the admiistration as the festival of
"Raksha Bandhan" drew near and on seeing Rakhi in every letter, Hindus were asked to instruct their families not to send any Rakhi in future; otherwise, they would be beatten up mercilessly. Most of us were not even allowed to receive the Rathis sent to us from India. Due to military area we were not allowed to come out," said they.
Pakistanis fraternise with Hindus to protest
against Saudi behaviour
During their say there, the Pakistanis' role was much appreciable, said they. "On the day of any Hindu festival, a Pakistani,supposed to be an arist,used to draw a picture of a Hindu god or goddess on a post-card size paper. On the day of Holi, he drew a picture of Bhagawan Vishnu as Narasimha Avatar; on Rakha Bandhan day a picture of Durga; and on the day of Deepavali after drawing pictures of Ganesha and Lakshmi, he called Hindus in his apartment turn by turn to celebrate their prestigious festival, they added. Then all the Hindus collected their fruits, distributed to the co-employess and sad them with their Muslim brethren.
But on the day of Diwali when everyone was busy in sharing one's joys, all of a sudden for the third time in a day, securitymen raided their apartments, without uttering any word they left; but later on ,they raided Hindus' apartments at mid -night.
However, Sri Lankans never tried toshare the festivities with Indians or Pakistanis. Respecting Hindus' sentiments, Pakistanis would not eat beef when in the company of their Hindu colleagues from India, while Sri Lankans are beef withoyt any hesitation or regard for the sentiments of their Hindu colleagies.
Saudi Arabian Govt. further showed resentment towards the fixation of the salary for Indian labour settled by the Indian Government. This was also due to the negligence of the Ministry of Labour, Government of India
Further,"although every appointment letter would as usual be cheched by our Ministry ofLabour, we were not paid the actual prescribed salary.Only 700 Riayals(almost half of the actual ) were paid to in Item Manager,whose sanctioned basic pay was 1200 Riyals. It was said that our Labour Ministry was having a lion's share in this type of bunglings; otherwise,how it could have passed such a low grade of labourers there."
"No attention was paid by the Hon'ble Ambassador of India, when we 250 Hindus (from India) brought all these bunglings to his knowledge," said they woefully. Though on every appointment letter it is written that Indian Ambassador is bound to visit his countrymen and solve their problems, yet not even once did he move about or given word of assurance," they added.
By seeing such maltreatment of the Saudi government and ,above all, the negligence of our Labour Ministry as well as of the Indian Embassy there, all the Hindus serving the tenure jobs decided to leave this gulf country. Though some American concerns offered them more emoluments plus perks in deserving cases, Indian Hindus rejected everything.
It is high time that the Govt. of India checks such type of cheatings and bunglings in the Ministry of Labour, and also looks into the negligence of duty by our Indian Embassy to maintain which huge public funds are wasted.
(Published in Organiser dt.Dec.21,1986)