MANGALURU: Holding a Sathyanarayana puja in a hall in Kuwait, around a fortnight ago, has landed eleven Indians in police custody there. The Indians – most of whom are from the coastal region – are members of the Navachethana Welfare Association, Kuwait. Members of the association, reports say , have been organizing the event for the past decade.This time, it is learnt, they did not apply for permission.

Indian ambassador to Kuwait Sunil Jain told STOI over telephone on Saturday: “Eleven men who were conducting a puja were taken in for questioning by police after the neighbours complained. All… are still under detention.”

Diplomatic sources said that loud noise during the puja had attracted the attention of neighbours, who in turn called police.

Udupi-Chikkamagaluru MP Shobha Karandlaje, who is in touch with ambassador Jain in Kuwait, told STOI that according to his information, Kuwaiti authorities are not forthcoming with details of the incident.

“Kuwaiti authorities are not cooperating with the Indian embassy’s request for information on their detention,” she said, adding they were reportedly arrested for organizing a religious event without permission.

Quoting her interaction with Jain, Karandlaje said as per Kuwaiti law, a person arrested for any offence has to be produced before a court within 10 days. “They have been detained for 13 or 14 days now.” They have not been produced in court yet.”Jain also has no word from local deportation authorities on the fate of those detained, and on whether they will be deported to India, as is the norm there.”

The only question Kuwaiti authorities asked organizers of the event, led by association president Ashok Kumar, was if they had organized a puja, Shobha said.

Those detained with Ashok Kumar are Yadav Poojary, Anil Kumar, Kumar Vamanjoor, Sathish Beluvai, Umesh Shetty , Arun Shetty , Prashanth Shetty and Purushottam Kukyan. “Their families are worried about their fate,” Karandlaje said.

Dakshina Kannada MP Nalin Kumar Kateel said in addition to raising the issue with minister for external affairs Sushma Swaraj, he and Karandlaje have kept Union minister for chemicals and fertilizers Ananth Kumar in the loop. A nanth Kumar is monitoring the situation with Sushma,” Kateel told reporters on the sidelines of a meeting on railway issues on Saturday. “The arrest of Indians from this part of the state is a matter of concern.”

Kateel recalled that Swaraj had recently managed to get seven Indians arrested in the Gulf released, and hoped the puja organizers, too, would be freed at the earliest.

Source: TOI-BGLR