Kerala mother’s tears of joy as the community rallies to raise ₹34 crore to save son from execution

For the past 18 years, Fathima's son Abdul Rahim has been languishing in jail after being convicted of murder of a specially-abled boy.

ByDileep V Kumar

Published Apr 14, 2024 | 9:00 AMUpdatedApr 14, 2024 | 9:00 AM

Abdul Rahim. (Supplied)

Tears once again welled in 74-year-old Fathima’s eyes as she sat in the living room of her house at Kodampuzha in Kozhikode.

But these weren’t the weary tears of sorrow that had etched lines deeper into her skin in these past 18 years. These were tears born of a hope reborn.

She believes that after 18 years of longing and waiting, she will once again hold her son, Abdul Rahim, in her arms.

She is thanking the community wholeheartedly for doing the impossible as they collectively raised a staggering sum of ₹34 crore as blood money for the release of Abdul Rahim from Al-Malaz Prison in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Fathima and MP Nazeer. (Supplied)

It was on 12 April that the “Save Abdul Rahim” campaign on social media became successful through a remarkable display of collective effort and compassion. The blood money raised is expected to save Abdul from a certain unpleasant fate — execution.

For the past 18 years, Abdul has been languishing in jail after being convicted of the murder of a specially-abled boy in Saudi’s capital. It is learnt that in 2006, he accidentally dislodged the life support of the boy, leading to his death. The incident is said to have happened on the 28th day of his arrival in Saudi. He was recruited as a driver to take care of the boy.

Also Read: Kerala Police bring back wanted man after arrest in Saudi Arabia

‘He had no words’

Talking to South First, MP Nazeer, brother of Abdul, said, “Yesterday (12 April), he (Abdul Rahim) called us. We told him that the fund collection was inching closer to the target. At first, he couldn’t believe it. He had no words to express his joy. After a pause, he thanked everyone.”

According to Nazeer, a miracle was needed to save Abdul from death row.

“Thanks to the unwavering support of the community, the daunting task of gathering a staggering sum to secure his freedom has now been achieved with ease. It was indeed a miracle,” said Nazeer.

He added, “It was a remarkable display of collective effort and compassion as like-minded individuals rallied together, proving that even in the face of seemingly impossible challenges, hope prevails.”

The face of the campaign

It was in 2023 that the family of the deceased boy decided to pardon Abdul Rahim upon paying blood money of ₹34 crore.

The app. (Screengrab)

Then, an Abdul Rahim Legal Assistance Committee, which was set up by bringing representatives of various political parties, social/religious leaders, and common people under one umbrella, kickstarted a crowdfunding drive by setting up a bank account and then an app “Save Abdul Rahim”.

The fund collection, which started at a slow pace, gained momentum in the last few weeks as the deadline for handing over the amount was set as 16 April by the mediators.

#SaveAbdulRahim became a war cry, echoing across social media and it was Fathima who became the face of the campaign.

“What we witnessed is an extraordinary feat. The amount has been raised through countless acts of kindness, sacrifice, and unwavering determination. It is a testament to the power of unity, the resilience of the human spirit, and the boundless capacity for compassion that lies within us all,” Nazeer said.

According to him, his mother had never thought that such an amount could be raised.

“She knew that every rupee raised was a brick laid on the path that could bring her son back to her. She is elated not only because the son will soon come back but also of the fact that an entire community came together to rewrite a seemingly predetermined fate,” added Nazeer.

Also Read: NSDC signs MoU with Saudi Arabian government to protect rights of skilled labourers from India

‘Contributions poured in’

Amount collected so far. (Screengrab)

The Abdul Rahim Legal Assistance Committee has brushed aside reports that it was the people of the state who alone raised the blood money.

Talking to South First, committee’s convener KK Alikutty said that non-resident Keralites, residents from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Andaman and others had contributed towards this cause.

“It was the common people who contributed largely towards saving a life. Women, MGNREGA scheme workers, Anganwadi workers, autorickshaw workers, bus employees, hotel employees, and others had made significant contributions,” said Alikutty.

When asked if they believed that the said amount could be raised, the convener said that it was believed that even getting closer to the target was beyond their dreams.

“We never believed that we could achieve the target. We aimed to raise an amount of ₹15 to 20 crore and then approach the business community for the rest. But we were astonished by this response. This is the largest fund collection drive that took place in the state,” said Alikutty.

Also Read: Mangaluru man in Saudi jail

What’s next?

Meanwhile, a meeting of the committee which convened on Saturday, decided not to accept funds anymore. It also decided to continue the functioning of the committee till Abdul Rahim returns home.

“We have appointed a couple of our members to coordinate with the officials in fast-pacing its efforts to hand over the blood money. We will also coordinate with the bank officials to get a clear picture of the fund flow,” said Alikutty.

As per the platform created for collecting the money from the public, an amount of ₹34,48,86,321 has been received so far. The committee said that it would hand over the surplus amount to the government.

At the same time, the committee members and relatives share the view that the journey for Ahmed’s freedom isn’t over as legal hurdles remain and there are many bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

But Fathima, it seems, had a vision filled in her mind’s eye – the creak of the front door, the sound of familiar laughter, and the warmth of Abdul Rahim’s embrace.

(Edited by Kamna Revanoor)