The case of the missing Indian engineer is getting curiouser and curiouser. On Wednesday (6 June), the Home Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs in a joint statement to the Supreme Court said that Fasih Mehmood was not in their custody and had no role in his arrest from his residence in Al Jubail on 13 May.
This follows the Home Minister P Chidambaram’s dismissal of media reports of Mehmood’s custody by Indian intelligence agencies as “wrong”.
However, it is not just the Indian press that has been reporting on the role of Indian government in the deportation and detention of the engineer. A week after Mehmood was picked up from his residence, an English Saudi daily Arab News published a report that confirmed Mehmood’s deportation at the behest of the Indian government.
The report (“KSA deports ‘Bangalore blast suspect’s aide’”, 19 May) — a copy of which has been submitted to the Supreme Court as part of Mehmood’s wife petition seeking that he be produced in court by the Government – goes on to give a detailed chronology of events that ultimately led to Mehmood’s deportation.
According to the report the officials at the Indian Mission in Saudi Arabia forwarded a letter to the Ministry of Foreign affairs (Saudi Arabia), which then notified the Interior Ministry and requested that Mehmood be deported.
The report quotes a manager of Eram Engineering Corporation, where Mehmood was employed since 2008 as stating: “We were told by the Jubail police and some senior officials at the Indian Embassy that Mehmood is wanted in India for some anti-social activities and that we should immediately hand him over to the police.”
The report further states that after Mehmood was handed over to the Saudi Police, the Interior Ministry (Saudi Arabia) informed the Indian Embassy officials about “about Mehmood’s departure and flight details. He was immediately arrested on arrival in India. There is no further word on the investigations.”
But the Indian government has consistently maintained no knowledge of Mehmood’s whereabouts and has refused to entertain the constant requests by his wife Nikhat Parween who has been running from ministry to ministry for information about her husband.
Stonewalled by every authority, she then approached seeking its intervention to direct the government to produce her husband in court and disclose the name of the authority that arrested Mehmood and the charges under which he has been detained.
Following the Supreme Court’s notice to the government on 30 May, the government has been on overdrive, issuing terror alerts on Mehmood. A Red Corner Notice was issued against him for his alleged involvement in the 2010 blasts in Karnataka and Delhi. The Red Corner Notice lists “terrorism, crime involving use of weapons/explosives” as offences Mehmood is wanted for. The government has since sought Mehmood’s deportation from Saudi Arabia.
Yesterday, responding to the Supreme Court’s notice, the government denied being part of the Saudi Police team that made the alleged arrest and rejected the claim that Mehmood has been brought to India.
The government has sought more time from the Supreme Court stating that the Saudi Arabia government was yet to respond to their request for information on the case.
The next hearing in the Supreme Court is scheduled for 11 June.