Carrying medicine for an acquaintance proved to be a bitter pill for Rashid Aboobaker. On 25 June, the native of Meenappis in Kasargod district was returning to Kuwait after attending his sister’s wedding. Along with his luggage, he was carrying a tiny packet as per his friend’s instructions.
Little did he know that the packet contained 700 tablets of methadone, an opioid analgesic. Methadone is used as a cheap replacement for heroin by drug addicts across the world.
“I have been working in Kuwait for the past 18 months as a household help,” says Aboobaker. “I met CK Favas at a music concert in Kuwait. He was from Mattool in Kannur district. He used to call me once in a while and chat on WhatsApp. When I told him that I was going home for my sister’s wedding, he requested me to bring back some medicine for his friend.
“I came home on 18 June. His friend Nasim Mustafa came over and handed me a packet. I didn’t check it because I trusted him. When I arrived in Kuwait, the airport security checked my baggage and found the banned drugs in the packet.”
When they heard the news, Aboobaker’s shocked friends tried their best to convince the Kuwaiti officials about his innocence.
When they alerted his family about his arrest, his father and uncle lodged a complaint with the Kanhangad Police, narrating the circumstances leading to his arrest. The police registered an fir and launched an investigation. They located Mustafa and arrested him.
The police also discovered that Favas had strong links with the drug syndicate operating in Kuwait and had used many innocent people as drug couriers. The police are on the lookout for Favas, who is absconding.
Aboobaker claims that he was not aware of Favas’ links with the drug syndicate and had met him only thrice.
The police forwarded copies of the FIR and the investigation report to the Ministry of External Affairs as well as the Indian Embassy in Kuwait. Aboobaker’s friends and well-wishers pooled together money for the bail.
On 22 July, Aboobaker was released after his friends coughed up 1,500 Kuwaiti dinars (approximately Rs 3.2 lakh) as a surety bond.
“I was lucky to get bail,” says Aboobaker. “But I had to surrender my passport to the police. When I was in jail, I met some Indians who had been convicted for drug trafficking. Two persons, one from Andhra Pradesh and another from Tamil Nadu, told me that people from a travel agency had tricked them into carrying drugs.”
Aboobaker’s ordeal is far from over. In Kuwait, he has to face a trial, which may commence next month. Trials can be an expensive affair and his family has to send money.
But he is happy for now. “I’m relieved,” he says. “I have learnt a bitter lesson: never agree to carry gifts. The drug syndicate is out to exploit your generosity. Be careful, or else you will land up in prison for no fault of yours.”