The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Naushad has eyes only for daughter
- Back from the brink

Thiruvananthapuram, April 6: When he saw his little daughter, Abdul Lateef Naushad knew god had spared his eyes for this special moment.

The 34-year-old, who saw his daughter for the first time today, had been slapped with an-eye-for-an-eye sentence after he partially blinded a Saudi youth in a scuffle three years ago.

He was released from a Dammam prison yesterday and arrived here this morning. Chief minister Oommen Chandy, his wife Mariamma Chandy and Naushad’s family received him at the airport.

But his eyes ' sparkling with new life ' sought out the loveliest face in the crowd. Asna, who wasn’t born when her father left for the oil kingdom three-and-a-half years ago, was clinging to her mother Suhaila. Naushad took her in his arms, eyes filled with tears.

Indian ambassador to Saudi Arabia M..H. Farook said Naushad was directly taken to Dammam airport from jail and put on the flight home.

He had been behind bars for 1,100 days after being charged with punching Saudi computer professional Naif Al-Otaibi in his right eye, leading to partial loss of vision. The scuffle over a battery charger occurred on April 1, 2003, at the petrol pump near Dammam where Naushad used to work.

The penalty slapped on him by a Dammam court was an eye. However, on appeal, a higher court in Saudi capital Riyadh directed the parties to find a compromise, Naushad told reporters today.

The royal clemency came when Otaibi pardoned Naushad and after the Indian government and his wife and mother sent a flood of petitions to King Abdullah during his visit to India earlier this year.

Naushad said he owed his release to the efforts of Indian and Saudi officials, and especially his sponsor.

“My sponsor has been sending money and trying to take care of my family here in all possible ways.”

Naushad arrived this morning in true NRI-style, bags packed with goodbye gifts from friends. But the one baggage he wished he had left behind was the memory of his ordeal in prison and the fear of losing an eye.

With “exit” stamped on his passport, Naushad may not be able to go back to Saudi Arabia in the next two years. Not that he is complaining. “I want to spend some time with my family,” he said.

Naushad’s wife said she was relieved to have her husband back. “I thank Allah first. Everybody was too kind to us and I have gratitude for all of them.”

Naushad had been living in Saudi Arabia for seven years and was the sole breadwinner of his family comprising his parents, wife and two children.

Chandy promised to lend him a hand in rebuilding his life. “We’re ready to help him go abroad if that’s what he plans to do or if he wants to stay back, the government will do all that is possible for his rehabilitation.”

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