Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh condemned the execution of two Punjabi men in Saudi Arabia and called it “totally barbaric and inhuman”, PTI reported. He also criticised the Ministry of External Affairs “for failing to prevent, and then not disclosing the execution of the two men”.
The Ministry of External Affairs, in a written communication dated April 10 sent to a family member of one of the men, said that Satwinder Kumar of Hoshiarpur district and Harjit Singh of Ludhiana district were executed by beheading by Saudi authorities on February 28, IANS reported. The Indian Embassy in Riyadh was not informed prior to the execution.
The men were arrested on December 9, 2015 in connection with the murder of another Indian national, Arif Imamuddin. The three men were allegedly involved in a robbery and Kumar and Singh killed Imamuddin in a dispute over sharing the money.
“If the executions were undertaken without prior information even to the Indian Embassy in Saudi Arabia, with the victims not provided legal counsel, it amounted to a grave violation of human rights,” Amarinder Singh said in a statement. Singh said he would call upon the United Nations and other global human rights organisations to draw attention to the incident.
He said pressure must be put on Saudi Arabia “to end its ancient and blatantly illegal practices which were against all norms of humanity”.
As per the Saudi system, the families of the two men who were executed will only get death certificates and not their bodies. “If needed, the prime minister himself should intervene to ensure the return of their mortal remains,” the chief minister said.
Ministry of External Affairs Director (Consular) Prakash Chand in a letter sent to Satwinder Kumar’s wife, Seema Rani, said: “Our embassy in Riyadh received a note verbale dated February 28, 2019 from Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs by fax in the evening the same day stating implementation of execution order of late Satwinder Singh and Harjit Singh on February 28, 2019. The embassy had not been informed about execution beforehand.” Seema Rani received the letter on Tuesday, according to The Indian Express.
Satwinder Kumar’s family said they had received a call from Saudi Arabia on March 2 informing them about the execution. Seema Rani approached the ministry of External Affairs, but later approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court as she was not provided any information. The High Court issued a notice to the Centre on April 8 asking it to confirm if Satwinder Kumar had been executed in Saudi Arabia.