The Human Rights Protection Foundation (HRPF) has urged the External Affairs Ministry to help release Shankar Poojary, a native of Basrur of Udupi district who has been lodged in a jail in Kuwait on the charge of possessing narcotic substances.
In a press release issued here on Thursday, Ravindranath Shanbhag, HRPF president, said Mr. Poojary had left for Kuwait in May 2014 to work with a company called Agricultural Food Products Company, K.S.C. He would visit once in two years.
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He last came home on April 25 this year and stayed for two months.
On June 13, he caught a flight from Mumbai to Kuwait. After the immigration clearance, he was allowed to go out of the airport. When he was about to reach his residence, he was arrested by the Kuwait police. Initially, he was detained at the airport before being shifted to Silaibia public jail, where he has remained imprisoned.
On June 14, Mr. Poojary’s wife, Jyoti Poojary, received a call from the jail authorities in Kuwait informing her that her husband had been arrested. On June 28, an official of the Indian embassy in Kuwait informed her that she should arrange for legal assistance for his release. But she was clueless about Mr. Poojary’s offence.
On July 13, Mr. Poojary called his wife from Kuwait and informed her that a packet of medicines given to him by a person named Mubarak from Udupi was the reason for his arrest. Mr. Mubarak had given the packet for delivery to his mother-in-law, Thasleem Fathima, residing in Kuwait, for her personal use. After his arrest, Mr. Poojary called Ms. Fathima thrice and requested help, but not much appeared to have been done.
After Ms. Poojary approached the HRPF for help, the organisation tracked Mr. Mubarak, a driver, who is said to have accepted that he had purchased 210 Ultracet tablets from a medical shop here on June 10. He also accepted that he had given the packet of medicines, along with the prescription and bill, to Mr. Poojary.
But there are two problems. First of all, the medical shop had dispensed the medicine in June 2018 on a prescription dated April 9, 2015. It could be made out from the prescription that someone had overwritten the date as April 9, 2018. Secondly, the prescription was only for 20 tablets, but the shop had dispensed 210.
When Ms. Poojary approached the local police, they could not help her as the crime was committed in Kuwait. So she put out the matter on social media. When Mr. Mubarak was pressured to resolve the problem, initially by Ms. Poojary and then by organisations on social media, he landed in even bigger trouble.
In order to get a prescription of more recent date, Mr. Mubarak approached a doctor at Kasturba Hospital in Manipal, where Ms. Fathima was treated in 2015. But the doctor refused to give any prescription without examining the patient. Later, Mr. Mubarak approached a local doctor, who refused initially but finally wrote a prescription dated June 9, 2018.
A copy of this prescription was sent by an enthusiastic activist to officials in Kuwait. But the authorities questioned how a prescription was given without physical examination of the patient, who was in Kuwait.
Now, only the MEA can provide help and save Mr. Poojary, Dr. Shanbhag said.
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