Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Sufficient cause for death penalty

I won't be happy until I can impose death penalties on Saudis who annoy me. Not that I ever will. But I think Saudi Arabia should be expelled from the community of nations.

Wednesday December 20 2006 09:42 IST

ALAPPUZHA: Losing one’s way in Saudi Arabia could mean losing one’s life. Jojo Joseph, 31, a native of Mariyapuram, near Edathua, in Alappuzha district stumbled on this great truth on Monday. What saved him from the sword was the timely intervention of the Union Government.

Jojo, an employee of an electronic firm in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, who had gone to a place near Madina to see his wife Sheeba, a nurse, and their new-born, lost his way and ended up on the road to Madina.

Jojo, who did not know that the road was out of bounds for people belonging to other religions during the pilgrimage season, was arrested by the police at Al-Azeez, a place near Madina. The Saudi religious court ordered that Jojo be beheaded at noon (IST) on Tuesday ‘for trespassing into the area.’

Jojo conveyed the news to his folks in Mariyapuram who contacted Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy.

Chandy, who was in Kottayam, directed his office to send fax messages to the Indian embassy in Saudi Arabia, Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vayalar Ravi, Minister of State for External Affairs E Ahmed and T K A Nair, Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister. “It was a race against time,” said Oommen Chandy.

“After sending the messages, I called up Vayalarji, Ahmed and Nair. They swung into action in no time. The embassy came to know about the incident only when they received my fax,” Chandy said.

Chandy spoke to Jojo on his cellphone who gave him the name of the police station where he was lodged.

At the instance of the Prime Minister’s office, the External Affairs Secretary contacted the Saudi Government and convinced the authorities that Jojo had lost his way and that there was no ulterior motive in moving along the road.