India has sought “strict action” and “severe punishment” from Saudi Arabia against a Saudi national who chopped off the right hand of a domestic worker from Tamil Nadu after she complained about poor working conditions last week, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Kasturi, 50, is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Riyadh, her sister Vijayakumari told The Indian Express from their home in Vellore district.
“We are told that the incident happened on the night of September 29 after she complained about torture and non-payment of wages by her employer. He chopped off her hand when she tried to escape from the house through the balcony. Some neighbours and others took her to hospital,” Vijayakumari said.
“The Indian embassy officials, who visited her, spoke to her son who is a farmer in a village near Vellore. They told him that she had also suffered a spinal injury as she fell from the balcony when she tried to escape. We cannot go there unless the government arranges for it, but the officials have promised the best treatment for her,” she said.
In a video uploaded by a visitor at the hospital in Riyadh, Kasturi is seen asking to be sent back to India. It also shows her describing in Tamil how she tried to jump off from the balcony using a saree.
“This is the first time she has gone abroad for work. She was promised a salary of Rs 15,000 from which the agent was to take his cut because he did not charge any advance,” Vijayakumari said.
She added that Kasturi has four children, including three daughters and a son — her husband and son are farm workers. “She was forced to take up the job abroad as the family was facing financial problems after the marriage of her three daughters,” Vijayakumari said.
Reacting to the incident, MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup described the incident as “unfortunate and most condemnable”, and said India would “continue to seek justice for the victim”.
“Our Embassy in Riyadh has taken up the matter with the Saudi Foreign Office and asked for strict action in the matter and severe punishment for the sponsor. We have also sought an independent probe in the incident and urged that a case of attempted murder be lodged against the sponsor so that he is punished, if found guilty as per law,” the spokesperson said.
He added that India would “take up this issue in the Joint Working Group on Labour Matters with Saudi Arabia which will be held in New Delhi on October 12-13”.