Sunday, March 14, 2010

Indian worker’s 15-hour ordeal in the desert

By Shahid Ali Khan

RIYADH – Sharfudeen Necheeri (26), an Indian menial job worker, survived in a desert for 15 hours on a cup of milk and a glass of water.
Two crooks posing as plainclothes policemen picked up Necheeri on Thursday and drove for four hours and dumped him in a desert outside of the capital. The thugs robbed him of his SR360 but spared his mobile phone, “because it was made in China.”
Speaking about his ordeal, Necheeri said the duo approached him while he was walking alone at 10.30 P.M. on a street in Batha. They asked for his iqama (residence permit) and instructed him to sit in the car.
“I obeyed because they posed as plainclothes policemen,” he said.
The two men took Necheeri in an apartment building and locked him in a room for four hours before taking him to a remote area, about four hours drive from Riyadh and dumped him in the desert at 3.30 A.M.
It was a real ordeal for Necheeri, a janitor at a grocery store in Batha, to have spent his late hours of Thursday night in the desert. He was left with SR2 and a mobile phone, which had a low battery. It was pitch dark and he had nowhere to go for help.
Groping in the dark a panicky Necheeri decided to move on toward the city. Early Friday he found a group of camels in the desert and a Sudanese shepherd.
“I was exhausted from the long walk and I was hungry. I asked the Sudanese for food. As there was no food available the Sudanese guy offered me a cup of cow’s milk and a bottle of water. I paid him SR2, the only money left with me,” Necheeri said.
Necheeri’s friend lodged a complaint with Riyadh-chapter of Kerala Muslim Culture Center (KMCC), which in turn approached the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR).
Shaji Allapuzha, a KMCC member, said Salah Al-Kathla’an, Vice Chairman of NSHR, was very cooperative in the matter and asked the Riyadh Police to launch a search operation for missing Necheeri.
The police were prompt in launching a search operation by deploying a helicopter and a patrol in the desert area.
“The patrol asked me to accompany them in their search operation, basically to identify the missing person (Necheeri). Within a short time Riyadh Police managed to track Necheeri’s mobile phone through GPS system,” Allapuzzha said.
Although Necheeri’s mobile phone battery was at its low, the police were able to track him as he was moving toward the city, he said.
Finally a contact was established with Necheeri and once in police hand, he was taken to the primary health care center for medical checkup.
“Although a little panicky, Necheeri is doing fine now,” Allapuzha said. – SG

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