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'They chopped off my hand because I tried to escape'

By A Ganesh Nadar
Last updated on: October 13, 2015 22:25 IST
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Kasthuri Munirathinam, the maid from Tamil Nadu, whose hand was chopped off in Saudi Arabia, speaks from her hospital bed.

Kasthuri Munirathinam

Kasthuri Munirathinam, 52, a resident of Tamil Nadu, traveled to Saudi Arabia to work as a housemaid. Her husband Munirathinam stayed back at their home in Vellore district with their four children, one son and three daughters.

Her son Mohan told that a gentleman from Kerala, who works in the Gulf, informed the family that Kasthuri's right hand had been chopped off by her Saudi employers after she complained against them. Mohan informed the district collector and local Bharatiya Janata Party leaders about her plight.

Kasthuri Munirathnam spoke to A Ganesh Nadar/ on the telephone from her hospital bed in Riyadh.

I am feeling better now, but I am not completely healed. I have never worked abroad before this. My family was facing difficult times. My husband is old and cannot work. We have lots of debt and no house of our own. So I decided to work abroad for two years to pay off our loans.

I applied for and got a passport. I met an agent in Chennai through a boy from our village. I worked for two months there. The agent gave me a flight ticket and visa. I did not pay him anything.

On August 2, I flew to Riyadh. Four of us came together, all women, three from Tamil Nadu and one from Kerala.

At Riyadh airport, a man took us to our room. The next day an Arab came at 8 am and asked for me, so I went with him. He put me on a bus to Damam. It was a six hour journey.

At the bus stop a couple was waiting for me. They took me home. The next day after checking my visa and passport, they said I had been sent there by mistake. They gave me food and sent me back to Riyadh by bus.

The man who had sent me there from Riyadh was waiting at the bus stop. He sent me to work for another family. I don't know the name of my employer. I worked there for two months.

They did not give me much food to eat. After one month they paid me 900 riyals (about Rs 15,600) as wages. After some days, my employer's wife took the money back, saying she would pay me later.

One day they were saying something I did not understand. I did not like the tone though I did not understand what they were saying. The couple have a daughter living nearby. I went there and met two girls from Egypt who worked there. I knew that their driver was a Tamil. He was not there. I told the girls to phone him so that I could speak to him.

I told him, 'Save me from these people. I want to go back home.' The boy said, 'I am busy now, I cannot come there, you please go back to your employer's home.'

When I went back, the wife shouted at me: 'Why are you calling other people and complaining?' She called someone on the phone and complained about me. I told her to give me my two months wages and let me go.

I went to have a bath. When I came out of the bathroom, I found my room locked. I could not get out. I screamed and asked them to let me out. The wife yelled at me, but did not open the door.

I got scared and decided to escape. My room was on the second floor. I tied a saree to the balcony railing and decided to get down from there. When I was getting down somebody cut my right hand off. I lost consciousness and fell down.

They never hit me while I worked there. But they did not feed me properly at any time. They allowed me to speak to my family only once, after they gave me my salary, which they took back later.

I don't know who cut off my hand as I was looking down. I was in shock after that.

The police made inquiries in the hospital.

The hospital could not re-attach my hand though it was brought to the hospital with me. After I regained consciousness I was told that my right hand was completely severed. A Red Cross team brought me to hospital. They had brought the hand separately in ice, I was told.

I came to the hospital on September 30. The police investigations are on. Indian embassy officials have been in touch with me.

I just want to go home. My dreams of paying off my loans and buying a house have crumbled.

IMAGE: Kasthuri Munirathinam in her hospital room in Riyadh.

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A Ganesh Nadar /