Parents Bemoan Continuing Detention Of Students

RIYADH, 4 September 2007 — Ten out of 31 Pakistani and Indian youths who were in police detention in Jeddah have been released after frantic efforts by parents, school authorities and diplomats. They were detained for allegedly assaulting policemen while celebrating their countries’ independence day anniversary in mid-August and have been in detention for the past three weeks awaiting a hearing.

“All the eight released Pakistanis are students in junior classes and have been living in Jeddah on the residence permits (iqama) of their parents,” said Chaudhury Shaukat Ali, consul welfare at the Pakistan Consulate in Jeddah.

“Two Indian students have also been released, probably on the grounds that they are minors,” said Wahid Saeed, a spokesman of the Indian Students Group, in an e-mail statement, sent to Arab News yesterday.

According to community sources, the students were picked up by the Jeddah police after they allegedly threw eggs and tomatoes at policemen during celebrattions that went awry.

“The female members of the students’ families are worn out with grief. The parents, who are now moving from pillar to post to secure their release are completely exhausted,” said Saeed.

“Everyone has forgotten me and my child, as though I were dead; I am like something thrown away, I appeal to Saudi authorities to take a lenient view and release my child,” said a mother, while speaking to Arab News via telephone.

Asked about the fate of remaining Pakistani students, Shaukat Ali said that all efforts are being made to secure their release. “Among the Indians, two Grade 12 students are being held in Briman Prison since Aug. 15,” said Saeed. He called on the Indian Consulate officials to help secure the release of the youths as early as possible.

“The Pakistan Consulate has been successful in securing the release of a number of their students,” he said. “The only thing we want is justice for our children and our consulate, if it wants, can play a more active and effective role in this case. As per our information, the two Indian students are facing charges of creating trouble along with the Pakistanis,” he said.

Saeed pointed out that “the parents of the children are saddened and distraught as the students are still being detained.”

Saeed, while referring to the families of students, said that all the family members have been crying and asking for help. “Out of five Indian students, only one is on the rolls of the International Indian School, Jeddah (IISJ). Others may be studying in different schools of the city,” said M.S. Rahman, IISJ principal.

“But, my deep sympathy and good wishes, however, are there for each family and for every child,” said Rahman.

There are several Pakistani and Indian schools besides the embassy-run schools in major cities, including Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam. About 120,000 Pakistani and Indian students are currently on the rolls of these schools.

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