K’taka man arrested for comments on Makkah to be released

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Riyadh: Harish Bangera, a resident of Karnataka, who has been in Saudi Arabia’s jail since December 2019 on charges of blasphemy, is set to be released and will be arriving at his native soon.

Satish Kumar Bajal, president of Mangaluru association Saudi Arabia (MASA) gave this information.

“The cost of Bangera’s air travel has also been paid to the prison officials on behalf of the Mangalore association,” Satish told the media.

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Satish said all of Bangera’s release documents are complete and that he is in the final stages of his journey to India. He thanked the Indian Embassy, Indian Overseas Forum, Manikantan, Mohammed Shareef, Dammam, Prasanna Bhat, Riyadh, Prakash Poojary, Riyadh, Kamalaksha Adyar, Al Kober, Joyson, and others for their help in the release of Harish Bangera.

Bangera was arrested on charges of making blasphemous comments on the Saudi Crown Prince and Mecca, the holy site of Muslims across the world.

According to the media reports, the man, who was working for a Dammam-based Saudi company and was employed as an airconditioner mechanic, commented on social media and said that the Ram temple will be built in Makkah.

The post received many comments, and Bangera was criticized by many. He was arrested after the post came to the notice of Saudi authorities.

In a video posted by Harish shared across social media channels, he can be seen holding his hand and seeking forgiveness.

He is heard saying, “I have done a mistake. Please forgive me. I will never upload such a post again. I ask my Muslim brothers to please forgive me on this occasion. I am facing a problem with my company.” But this could not help him prevent an arrest.

In another post that has since gone viral on Facebook, Harish was reportedly fired by employers over this alleged post. “We, Gulf Carton Factory, want to bring to your attention what happened, regarding the unethical posts, posted by Mr. Harish Bangera from his personal Facebook account. It was unacceptable and we immediately terminated Mr. Harish Bagheera from his duties and the contract of the company. We condemn this and such activities are very severe and we have reported this case to the police, the ministry of labor, and the Saudi authorities to take further action. We assure everyone that we have zero tolerance for such actions.”