Ghousia Khatoon was in the garage of her employers’ house when she received a phone call from Riyadh. The voice at the other end of the line asked her if there was a man in her house, as he had to give her some bad news. When she replied in the negative, the man told her that her daughter had died. When Ghousia refused to believe him, the man sent her photos and videos of her daughter Asima Khatoon to convince her.
It has now been eight days since Ghousia learned of her daughter’s death. She told The News Minute that the man offered her some money and said that he would look after her daughter’s burial arrangements in Riyadh where she worked. However, in these eight days, she has run from pillar to post in an attempt to get her daughter’s body back.
Twenty-five-year-old Asima Khatoon of Shah Colony in the Dabeerpura area of Hyderabad went to Riyadh last December. She was quite taken up with the idea of working in Saudi Arabia.
“Seeing that my sister’s daughter Sameena Khatun had got good employers in Saudi, even Asima wanted to go there. When she told me she wanted to go there I asked her what necessity was, but she wanted to help us financially,” Ghousia said. Ghousia lost her husband 20 years ago and has since raised her two sons and two daughters by working as a domestic help.
In November 2015 Asima contacted an agent named Muskaan and her husband Jahangir who charged her Rs 15,000 to send her to Riyadh. For eight days after she reached Riyadh, there was no word from her. When she did manage to call, Asima told her mother that her employers had taken away her phone.
“She called again in a few days and said that she wanted to return. She regretted going there as they were harassing her. They did not give her any food to eat, because of which she was unwell,” Ghousia said.
In January, she approached the Rain Bazar police station to complain against Muskaan. “They accepted my complaint but did not take it seriously,” she said. That’s when she asked Muskaan to bring her daughter back, but she asked for Rs 2 lakh. “I just wanted my daughter’s safe return, so I raised the money by selling our two-room house in Dabeerpura,” Ghousia said. But money in hand, Muskaan vanished from her house in Malakpet. “I have been going to the house for the past 15 days but they aren’t there,” Ghousia says.
A letter written by the Telangana Chief Secretary to the Embassy of India in Riyadh names Asima’s employer as Abdul Rahman Ali Mohammed, and notes that she was held hostage in his house. The letter appeals to the government to act on behalf of Asima by bringing her body back to India. News of Asima’s death came on May 2, just days after this letter, seeking the center’s help, was written.
Police inspector G Ramesh said in a statement that a letter on the behalf of the state government has been written to the Saudi Arabia consulate and that they are trying to get the body back. Asked why the police did not take Ghousia's allegations seriously when she first approached them, he claimed that Asima had broken the law by going on a long-vacation visa.