Mangaluru: The members of Nava Chetana Welfare Association Kuwait (NCWAK) – a body of Non-Resident Indians – who were deported from Kuwait for holding a Shri Satyanarayana Puja, held a press meet at Hotel Woodlands here, on December 7.
Addressing the mediapersons, Purushotham Kukkiyan from Kodimbadi Puttur who was working in a catering company in Kuwait said, “Nava Chetana Welfare Association was started in 2011 and is affiliated to the Indian Embassy in Kuwait. We have more than 450 members in the association and all the members are striving hard to help needy people by holding blood donation camps, celebrating festivals, holding Christmas, Eid and annual get-togethers without any dicrimination of caste, creed or religion.”
He further said that every year, various programmes are conducted on October 16. “We had held the Satyanarana Puja at our building premises because there is no permission to hold puja in a public place. The puja was held in the ground floor with closed doors and more than 150 members took part in the puja.”
After 10 days of the puja, on October 16, association member Yadav Poojary was called by his HR Manager to his cabin. When Yadav met the HR Manager, he gave the passport in Yadav’s hand and sent him with a CID officer who was present in HR Manager’s cabin for questioning. Since then, there was no any information about Yadav. On the same night, the president of the association, Ashok Salian, was also taken into custody by the Kuwait police. Within 5 days of their arrest, 9 more members were taken into custody and all were kept in a secret place without notifying any information about the 11 members to their families. Even the cause of the arrest was also not informed to the members of the association.
“In the beginning, the Indian Embassy in Kuwait also did not support our association members who were trying to trace us. When social activists in Kuwait informed the Union minister of External Affairs, the concerned authorities in Kuwait came forward.”
The Indians taken into custody hailed from Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka. No information on their whereabouts and welfare was available to their family members. They then appealed to the Union minister of External Affairs and the MPs of DK, Nalin Kumar Kateel and Shobha Karandlaje.
“On November 13, we were released from Kuwait Jail and deported. We did not get our benefits after working for more than 16 years. We want to go back to Kuwait to continue our work. Our companies are ready to take us back but we have been deported from Kuwait. We have met Sushma Swaraj and Anant Kumar in Delhi and they have given us assurances to help us in getting our jobs back by lifting the ban and taking our names out from the black list. We were questioned about what we did, what kind of puja, etc. and not tortured in any way. We were treated well in the jail,” Purushotham added.
Yadav Poojary, Ashok Salian, Satish, Anil Shetty, Kumar Poojary, Prashant Shetty, Umesh Shetty, arun Shetty, Jayakrishna Alva and Santhosh Rai were also present.