'The real Kerala story': Keralites raise Rs 34 crore to save a man from death row

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan, and several other politicians called this the ‘Real Kerala Story,’ taking a jibe at Sudipto Sen’s propaganda film ‘The Kerala Story’.
Abdul Rahim
Abdul Rahim
Written by:

Thousands of Keralites residing both in and out of the state recently came together to raise one of the biggest humanitarian aid for the release of a Kozhikode native from a jail in Saudi Arabia. It is heartening to note that the crowdfunding campaign raised a whopping Rs 34 crore (blood money), writing a new Kerala story of compassion, at a time when Sudipto Sen’s propaganda film The Kerala Story was recently picked for telecast by India’s state-owned public television broadcaster Doordarshan.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Leader of Opposition VD Satheesan, and several other politicians called this the ‘Real Kerala Story,’ taking a jibe at Sudipto Sen’s film, which pushed factually incorrect claims to establish that Malayali Hindu and Christian women are being ‘trapped by terror outfits through love jihad’. 

The money was raised for Abdul Rahim, who was employed as a driver in Saudi Arabia. Rahim has been in jail for the last 18 years over the death of a 15-year-old Saudi citizen in 2006, and his death sentence is soon due for execution.

Rahim, an autorickshaw driver in Kozhikode’s Feroke, moved to Saudi Arabia for better livelihood avenues like many other Malayalis. In Saudi, the then 26-year-old Rahim worked as a driver at a Saudi citizen’s house, where he was also the caretaker of his employer’s partially paralysed son. As per reports, the boy could only breathe and consume food through a medical support device attached to his neck. Rahim is said to have accidentally dislocated the device, leading to the boy’s death. 

His employer’s family refused to forgive him, and Rahim was sentenced to death according to Saudi law in 2018. In 2022, the verdict was upheld against an appeal, but the execution of the sentence was put on hold after the family agreed to let him go in return for blood money of 15 million Saudi riyals, which roughly converts to Rs 34 crore. The agreement was signed on October 16, 2022, and its validity will expire on April 16, 2024. Blood money is the compensation paid by an offender or his kin to the family of the victim. 

A Kerala story of brethren

Rahim’s story took a heartening turn when thousands of Keralites from around the globe joined hands to collect the money, and some of them even conducted challenges including the ‘biriyani challenge’ to draw attention to the fundraiser. 

Subsequently, an action committee was formed by his friends and relatives to accelerate the campaign, and a mobile application called ‘SAVEABDULRAHIM’ was also launched. On Friday, April 12, the representatives of the committee announced the success of the fundraiser, confirming that the amount needed to bring Rahim home has been collected. Speaking to the media, Rahim’s mother Fathima expressed gratitude to everyone who pitched in to give her son another chance at life.

Pinarayi Vijayan called this a true example of the Malayali spirit. “In the face of relentless hate campaigns targeting Kerala, the indomitable spirit of Malayalis shines through, upholding Kerala's resilience and compassion. Abdul Rahim's story, a Keralite facing execution in Saudi Arabia, symbolises this resistance. With 34 crore rupees raised for his release, Kerala's commitment to its people and values is crystal clear, shattering divisive lies. Gratitude to all those who joined hands for this humanitarian cause. United, we'll continue sharing the Real Kerala Story of compassion and truth,” the CM tweeted. 

VD Satheesan wrote on Facebook that the money raised by Malayalis is an answer to those who are trying to capitalise on the politics of communalism, which has spread hatred and division. ‘This is the real Kerala story. Kerala is a model,’ his Facebook post reads.

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute