Riyadh's Malayali community hosts biriyani challenge to aid Kozhikode man in death row in Saudi Arabia

Abdul Rahim
Abdul Rahim. File Photo: Special Arrangment

Riyadh: In a remarkable show of solidarity, the Malayali community in Riyadh has rallied together to support the release of Machilakath Peediyekkal Abdul Rahim, who has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for the past 18 years following a murder conviction. The deadline to pay Rs 33 crore in blood money will end on April 16.

Read More: Kozhikode man's release from Saudi jail: Rs 34 cr raised in Kerala's biggest crowdfunding

To raise the necessary funds, the community has formed the Abdul Rahim Legal Aid Committee, which will host the 'biriyani challenge' on the day of Eid. The panel has set the price of a biriyani at 25 riyals, with a minimum order requirement of five biriyanis per person.

Read More: Family of Kozhikode man jailed in Saudi races against time to raise Rs 33 cr

Members of the committee said they would reach out to every Malayali resident in Riyadh and its surrounding areas, appealing for their participation in this charitable endeavour. The initiative has already garnered support from various organisations, social workers, and individuals across the Saudi capital.

According to reports, businessman Boby Chemmannur has responded to the plea from Rahim's mother by launching a statewide campaign in Kerala to gather financial aid for her son’s release. Chemmannur announced his initiative in March, declaring his intention to traverse from Thiruvananthapuram to Kasaragod, seeking donations from the public.

Additionally, actor-turned-politician Suresh Gopi has joined the effort to assist Rahim. Gopi, who is contesting as the NDA candidate from Thrissur in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, said he has brought the Kozhikode native's situation to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's attention. Furthermore, he said he spoke to the Omani ambassador to explore diplomatic avenues for Rahim's release.

The story of Abdul Raheem
Raheem, a former auto driver from Feroke in Kozhikode, ventured to Saudi Arabia in 2006 seeking better prospects. There, he was employed as a house-driver in Riyadh, where part of his duties included caring for a differently-abled 15-year-old boy within the household.

A fateful incident unfolded when Rahim was driving with the boy one day. At a traffic signal, the boy urged Rahim to move the car forward ignoring the red light. When he refused, the situation escalated as the boy began spitting and beating him. During the altercation, Rahim unintentionally touched a medical device attached to the boy's shoulder. The device, which helped the boy to breathe, fell inside the car. The boy eventually went unconscious and died.

The death sentence came in 2018 under the Saudi law for murder, after the boy’s family refused to grant amnesty. The appeal court upheld this verdict in 2022, a decision later confirmed by the country's Supreme Court.

Currently, the execution of Rahim's sentence has been temporarily halted by the court, following an agreement with the deceased boy's family to accept diya (blood money) instead. The agreed amount is 15 million Saudi riyals, approximately Rs 33.24 crore, which must be paid within six months from the deal's signing on October 16, 2023.

An action committee has been raising money for the man through crowdfunding and a mobile app SAVEABDULRAHIM (Google Play & Apple Store links at the bottom). The window is closing and Rahim's chance to be released depends on raising the required funds before the deadline.

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