The six children of the arrested couple. Telegraph picture
Kendrapara, Oct. 20: Six pre-teen siblings have returned from Saudi Arabia with a harrowing tale: their parents have been arrested by Saudi police for allegedly practising black magic.
The eldest, Abdul Rehman, 12, today fought back tears as he spoke to The Telegraph — while simultaneously trying to console his brothers and sisters — at their hometown Kendrapara, where the children are staying with an uncle.
“My parents are innocent and have been arrested on false charges. The Saudi Arabia police beat them up badly. I have seen injury marks on their body,” Abdul sobbed.
“When I met them in jail, they cried like babies. I feel as if we have been orphaned.”
Their parents, Sheikh Nizam and Noor Jehan, had moved to Turba town near Jeddah nearly a decade and a half ago.
Nizam worked as an unskilled labourer and Noor Jehan served his employer as a domestic help. The couple claim to be mystic healers.
They were arrested in the first week of September after their employer, Mohammad Safi, lodged a complaint accusing them of practising black magic, said Raj Kumar, the community welfare officer at the Indian consulate-general in Jeddah.
Saudi authorities claimed to have found a variety of “occult items”, including herbs, in their possession, Kumar told this newspaper.
“They now face trial. If found guilty, they may have to undergo a minimum of two years of rigorous imprisonment,” he said.
As their parents were taken into custody, the six children were left alone in their rented house. Shocked and shattered, they knocked on their neighbours’ doors for help.
“They were caring and helpful. They gave us food and treated us with love. They informed the consulate-general’s office, which facilitated our safe return,” Abdul said.
Raj Kumar escorted the children to New Delhi on October 10. They reached Kendrapara the following day.
“We are now staying with our paternal uncle. I appeal to the state and central governments to intervene and help free my parents,” Abdul said as his eyes welled up again.
Their uncle, Sheikh Fayaz, said he had sent mails to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, President Pranab Mukherjee and chief minister Naveen Patnaik requesting help.
“My younger brother and his wife are innocent. I request the dignitaries to intervene to save the innocent couple from harsh punishment in Saudi Arabia,” he added.
Raj Kumar confirmed that the mission had learnt about the children from some Turba residents who had taken care of them after their parents’ arrest.
“Competent authorities were informed of their return journey to ensure they returned home safely,” he said.