The viral video of a weeping indian man narrating his plight as a worker in Saudi Arabia has landed him in jail, with Saudi police arresting Abdul Sattar Makandar after they discovered the video had accumulated 1 million views.
In the video, Makandar is seen pleadingfor help so that he can return to India, and escape Saudi Arabia where he has worked as a truck driver at a construction engineering firm since 2014.
Abdul says his employer of 23 months has not granted him leave, has not paid him regularly and is preventing him from leaving the country as his Iqama (work permit) and passport were in his possession. He claims he was forced to sign unknown documents. “Abdul sought help and sent me the video on March 12 and I posted it on Facebook in a bid to attract the attention of the Indian government to help bring him back,” Delhi-based social activist Kundan Srivastava told The Hindu.
The video of the weeping driver went viral on the internet last week and is being shared rapidly. Abdul’s plight made it to the headlines of The Huffington Post and the BBC World Service.
Abdul was arrested by the Saudi police on Monday, apparently under a Saudi law prohibiting “spread of misinformation” on the internet, following a complaint by his employer. “On the same day, I received an email from Abdul’s employer demanding the online video be removed, and a fresh video be posted featuring the driver stating that his firm was his saviour. We complied with all the demands hoping that Abdul will be released and will return to India soon,” added Mr. Srivastava who also posted the damage control video on Thursday.
But in a dramatic twist of events, the driver was released from prison on Thursday afternoon only to be arrested again in the early hours of Friday. “From friends in Khobar city, I found out that Abdul is lodged in prison again and the charges against him remain uncertain,” said Akif Sheik, the driver’s friend.
Emails and phone calls to Abdul’s office in Saudi Arabia didn’t receive any response.
Noor Jahan, Abdul’s mother, was inconsolable when The Hindu contacted her on Saturday. “The last I spoke to him was five days ago, his friends informed me he is in prison,” said the elderly woman who stays with Abdul’s wife and four children.