After 19 months in Saudi prison, Karnataka man returns home

Prime News, International, National, Mangaluru, August 19:- After a traumatic 19 months behind bars in a prison in Saudi Arabia for a blasphemous post against the Saudi crown Prince and the holy land of Makkah made out by fraudsters in his name, Harish Bangera from Udupi district is back home thanks to the efforts from various quarters including the Udipi Police and Union Minister Shobha Karandlaje.

Bangera from Koteshwar in Udupi district, who was arrested in December 2019 on charges of making contemptuous remarks about the crown prince and Makkah on Facebook, was freed from a Saudi prison on August 17. He reached his homeland on Wednesday (August 19).

Bangera, who was working as an air-conditioning technician in Saudi Arabia, had shared a post supporting the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) of Indian government which angered his employer. He later apologised for sharing the post via a video and deactivated the account.

Meanwhile, apparently provoked by his pro-CAA post, two Muslim brothers from Dakshina Kannada district had allegedly opened a fake Facebook account in Bangera’s name and posted objectionable material against the holy land and the crown prince. The Saudi Police acted swiftly and arrested him.

His wife Sumana filed a complaint with the CEN Police Station here stating that her husband was a victim of a conspiracy and explained that it was a fake account.

Police investigation revealed that Bangera had absolutely no connection with the account. The accused duo were arrested in October last year after it was found out that they had created the fake account.

Udupi Police shared the information collected with the Saudi Arabian government, which paved the way for his release.

Many people including social activist Ravindranath Shanbhag, former minister K Jayaprakash Hegde, MLA Halady Srinivas Shetty and police officials put in efforts to secure his release all these months.

The efforts of the Udupi Police and later the intervention of Union Minister of State for Agriculture Shobha Karandlaje and several other political leaders resulted in Bangera being freed from a Saudi prison on August 17.

His friends were present at the Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru when he arrived from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday morning.

Expressing happiness over Bangera’s release, Udupi district Superintendent of Police Vishnuvardhan said the case against the two people who created the fake account is still before the trial court. (Inputs: Agencies, NGB)

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