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Monday, March 20, 2023

Harish Bangera seeks punishment for those who got him booked under fake blasphemy charges in Saudi Arabia

Harish Bangera, who was forced to spend close to two years in a Saudi jail after Islamists got him arrested on fake blasphemy charges, has said that his priority now is to ensure that his conspirators are punished. Bangera recounted the horror of being confined alone in a Saudi prison despite being innocent and not knowing whether he would make it back home alive.

Bangera who returned to Bharat on 18 August said that he wouldn’t rest until he ensures that those who conspired against him and got him arrested under false charges of blasphemy are meted out severe punishment. He opined that unless those who are behind his ordeal are brought to justice, countless Bangeras would have to pay the price only because they are Hindus.  

“They spent just two days behind bars and are out on bail, while I suffered for one year eight months in jail, not knowing if I would see the outside world ever again. I didn’t know if I would ever make it back alive, for the crime that had I been accused of was such. And to be charged with blasphemy that involves Mecca and the royalty of that country was not a small issue. My life was almost over” Bangera told Swarjaya.

The ordeal began after Bangera shared a post pertaining to anti-CAA protests that had led to violent riots in Mangaluru in 2019. Even though he had taken down the post and even uploaded a video apologizing for sharing the post, local Islamists began targeting him by sharing his pictures on social networks including WhatsApp, and spreading falsehoods about him. Those Muslims from Mangaluru who were residing in Saudi even turned up at his workplace to assault him.

Bangera further says that it was because they wanted to exact a revenge that they created a fake profile in his name and shared the ‘blasphemous’ posts despite the fact that he had already apologized. He says he began fearing for his life and felt that his life was over. He further says “In that land, there is no one we can call ours”, and then began the battle for freedom and truth.

Bangera’s wife stepped forward to support her husband and registered a complaint with the local police stating that a conspiracy was being hatched against her husband. He received help from his friend Lokesh, activist Ravindra Shanbhag and several other local organizations.

Investigations by Udupi police revealed the involvement of two local Muslims in creating the fake profile to post derogatory messages. Local leaders then forwarded the matter to the GOI who subsequently apprised the Saudi government and secured Bangera’s release.

To show his gratitude, Bangera walked back (padayatra) home from the Anegundi temple after offering his prayers. Bangera has been quoted as saying “It is only God’s grace that I have returned despite the forces being against me and the case being of such stature. That Ganapathi has made it happen. Imagine being in a cell with no contact with the outside world, no TV, no phone, no books, no nothing. I dreaded each time the door would open as they came at all times of the day to enquire. The first 7-8 months were hell as fear was the only constant”.

Bangera informed Swarajya that he has not recovered yet from what unfolded and that he wants to rest for a few days, bring life on track, but after that, ensure that justice, in this case, goes on to set a precedent for those who put a Hindu through hell and get away with it.

Bangera says he wishes to pursue the case despite the financial burdens so that no other Hindu suffers just because he is a Hindu. He also points out that he hasn’t earned a penny since December 2019 and has debts to clear of those who helped his family while he was away in a Saudi jail.

Bangera is disappointed with the fact that the two Muslim brothers Abdul Huyez and Abdul Thuyez who put him through this ordeal are out on bail and the case is still pending before the trial court. He said that he hopes the system in Bharat would make room for justice that serves as a lesson and doesn’t let the guilty be roaming free on bail.

Comparing the legal system of Bharat with those in the Arab countries, Bangera says “Enquiries were endless as so many attempts were made to have me ‘confess’ my crimes. It was bound to be so harsh given that the crime they had implicated me in was such”.

Bangera signs off by saying that he doesn’t intend to return to Saudi Arabia after the ordeal suffered by him and his family.

(Featured Image Source: OpIndia)

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