NST 08:16:21am Thu, Apr, 25, 2019

Blood Money Campaign

Blood Money Campaign is basically meant for generating support for raising money for the rescue of helpless migrant workers who are jailed for not being able to pay required money decided by local court. Blood money is in fact the compensation amount to be given to the families of the victims deceased in any unexpected accidents, usually traffic accidents. In course of working as a driver in foreign land, some unlucky Nepali migrants happen to meet unexpected traffic accidents and in case of any death incidents, these drivers are taken to custody and then court. During the court hearing process, these migrants usually can't explain the actual situation about the incidents to the judge due to language issue which often increases likelihood of holding them responsible for the accidents despite their innocence.

The penalty or compensation amount decided by the court is usually so high that the migrant workers can hardly imagine paying. And, company they work for also decline to support in the payment of the blood money. And, these workers can't come home without paying blood money. Actually, such decision of the court often drives the migrant workers and their families in hopeless situation. Hence, as an effort to rescue such helpless migrants, PNCC takes initiation to raise fund from generous individuals across the region and rescue the victims from helpless situation. Till the date, PNCC in collaboration with many generous individuals and helping organizations have helped in rescue process of 3 Nepali migrant workers through the Blood Money Campaign. The brief details of the success record have been mentioned below.

I. Blood Money Campaign : Sthaneswor Bhusal

Bhusal in Accident: 36 years old Sthaneswor Bhusal comes from a very poor family from Madhyabindu-4, Nawalparasi. Inflicted by family poverty, Bhusal went to Saudi Arabia as a construction worker. Quite surprisingly, upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, he was told to work as a driver despite having no driving license. Initially, he refused but later he was bound to work as told. With no option left, he carried on his duty as a driver with an assurance from his employer that his driver's license would be processed and the company would take responsibility in case of any problem. Unfortunately, the things did not go as expected; his fate brought him into a very crucial situation when a truck hit his vehicle hard from the back, leaving its Indian driver dead on the spot and also causing his vehicle to hit another vehicle in front that resulted in the death of a Saudi Arabian national. 

After Accident: Right after the incident, Bhusal was taken into police custody, then later presented to the court where the court's verdict made him 50% responsible for the death of Saudi national. And, for this, he was told to pay Saudi riyal 150000 (equivalent to 43000 USD) as Blood Money (the money to be given as compensation to the family of someone killed) to the family of victim. Since then, Bhusal had been spending his painful days in foreign jail as his family could not afford nor raise the needed blood money. Indeed, this incident pushed Bhusal's family into more harrowing situation of hopelessness and frustration.  

PNCC's Efforts for Rescue: The mother of Bhusal went far and wide asking for help but did not work. In her desperate mood, she came to PNCC for needful support. Since there were no organized efforts to rescue Bhusal, PNCC as a dedicated organization for migrant workers, then organized a press conference on 10 Sept, 2017 and appealed all migrant workers, networks, helping organizations and NRNA around the world to join in its campaign to raise funds needed for his rescue. To a big surprise, the campaign within 4 months succeeded to raise the target fund.

Transfer of Blood Money: Meeting the Senior Secretary in MOFA, Singhdarbar, PNCC together with the representatives from NRNA handed over NPR. 4098000 (Nearly 41000 USD) to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a Check Handover Program organized on 19 Jan, 2018. The money was then sent to the concerned authority in Saudi Arabia through its Govt. internal channel.

Release of Bhusal: As committed, the MOFA and Nepali embassy played very crucial role together in coordination with PNCC networks and NRNA in KSA which eventually resulted in the release of Bhusal from Saudi Jail on 28 May, 2018. Indeed, the news of his release brought much happiness in his family, friends and relatives who were desperate earlier. Thanks to all generous individuals, NRNA, network, helping organization around the world for their support to make the campaign successful.

II. Blood Money Campaign; Prashant Limbu

Prashant comes from a very poor family from Buddha Shanti - 4, Jhapa. Inflicted by chronic poverty, he went to Saudi Arabia in driving visa on 10 Aug, 2016. He hoped that his company (Karam Al-Khaleej For Block & Precasting Company) would initiate process for his driving license that would allow him to work as a driver legally in Saudi. But the company did nothing for his license. He was rather forced to work as a driver despite having no license. As it is risky to engage in driving profession without having license, Prashant repeatedly requested the company to initiate process for his license but to no avail. He also requested the manpower agency back here in Nepal but things did not go as expected. Finally, with no option left, he carried on his duty as a driver.

Incident: In the meantime, his fate brought him into a very crucial situation when a van hit his vehicle hard from back, leaving a Saudi national dead in the van. The incident that took place on 29 April, 2017 (9 months after his arrival in Saudi) pulled him to police custody and later to Jail. In connection with this incident, the court decided that he along with his company was 75% responsible for the incident. And, as per the court's decision, both parties were made liable to pay total Riyal 240000 Blood Money (compensation to be given to the family of victim died in the accident); where Prashant has to pay 50% money which means Saudi riyal 120000 (equivalent to NPR 35 lakhs) and 50% to be borne by his company for allowing employee in driving work without license.

After Jail: After a long stay in jail for about 8 months he was released from the jail some five months back (13 Feb, 2018) but could not come home because Saudi authority would not give him exit permit without clearing the pending blood money. With no option left, he again went back to work for the same company for 2 months as a general labor but did not get paid. When requested for salary, company sacked him and made homeless. For some days, he took shelter in friend's room. Later after the dialogue with company under the initiation of Nepal embassy and NRNA, he has returned back to the same company and started working but he is still not sure of getting salary.  

Appeal for Support: Prashant has been spending his painful days in foreign land with no proper place to live, food to eat and shelter to sleep. His desperate situation has further driven his poor family into the harrowing situation of hopelessness and frustration.  Since no organized efforts were made so far to collect Blood Money to rescue him, following the constant appeal of his family, PNCC initiated campaign via press meet organized on 28 June, 2018 and requested every generous individuals and helping organizations around the world for donation.

Success of Campaign: To a big surprise, the coordinated effort initiated by PNCC in collaboration with different helping organizations managed to raise required fund within 2 months. And, the total NPR 36,81,600 collected during the Save Prashant Campaign was handed over to the concerned agency through Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on 10 Sept, 2018. After completing all legal formalities, Prashant came back to Nepal on January 14, 2019.

III. Blood Money Campaign: Bhupal Basnet

Frustrated Bhupal once bitterly lamented, "I never imagined that I would be in jail in foreign land; indeed, I came here with a dream to make a living and support my family; but things turned tough before I could translate my dream into reality". Bhupal Basnet comes from a poor family all the way from Baraha Municipality-02, Sunsari district. Inflicted by chronic poverty, he flew to Saudi Arabia in driving visa on 26 April, 2016 through Paju International Private Company. Upon reaching Saudi, he worked in AL MAJAL AL ARABI GROUP COMPANY as a driver for nearly 6 years.

Pending Case & Arrest: While working as a driver for his company, he went through a terrible traffic accident that caused the death of a Saudi national. This incident took him in jail for some months. Later, under the initiation of his company, the case was somehow settled and he was released from the jail. Right after this, he came to Nepal straight away. 1 year later, having no livelihood option in home country, he again flew to Saudi Arabia to work in another company. Upon his arrival in Saudi Airport, while checking his fingerprint in Biometric System, he was caught by Saudi Authority right from the airport quite surprisingly and then put in a BUREDA JAIL located in Saudi Arabia. Since then, he has been spending his painful days in foreign jail.

Decision of Blood Money: While asking for the reason of his imprisonment, he was told to have been responsible for causing death of a Saudi National in a traffic accident that took place some years back during his tenure in previous company. In fact, it was the same case for which he already served certain term in jail. After this, he thought his case was settled and therefore returned to Nepal as freed bird. But unfortunately, the case was not closed permanently showing the pending dues of Blood Money (the compensation to be given to the families of victims) equivalent to 75300 Riyal. In fact, the company he was working for did not pay promised amount of Blood Money (the company had assured Basnet that it would settle the case by paying Blood Mooney) as decided by the court which eventually left the file unsettled in due course. Because of this reason, his case does not allow him to come home without paying the Blood Money.   

Initiation of Campaign: Having heard about the painful situation of Bhupal Basnet in foreign jail, his family desperately went far and wide for help but did not work. Since there were no organized efforts to help Basnet, a Blood Money campaign was initiated under the leadership of PNCC requesting every individual and helping organizations around the world for their needful support. Finally, the campaign successfully raised required money needed to rescue him from the foreign jail.

Handover of Blood Money: The collected money Rs. 22, 91,379 was handed over to Foreign Ministry on 24 Feb, 2019 in presence of helping organizations. The money was then sent to the concerned authority in KSA through its government channel. With the handover of the money, the process to release Basnet from jail was initiated in kind coordination with Nepali embassy in Saudi Arabia. After rigorous initiation and follow up both from Nepali embassy, PNCC together with his family, Bhupal was released from the jail last on 2nd April, 2019.

Travel Back to Homeland: Right after his release from the jail, Nepali embassy helped him for the preparation of his travel document which eventually made a way for his travel back to home land. After years of painful days in foreign land, Bhupal Basnet finally came back home on 10 April, 2019. Upon his arrival to Tribhuvan International Airport, he thanked all individuals and helping organizations for all the helps and efforts made for his rescue and return process back to home country.

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