News headlines

Agency report
Dubai, Feb 22: Two Indian Haj pilgrims who were arrested for bringing khas-khash - the poppy seeds commonly used in Indian dishes but banned in Saudi Arabia - into the kingdom, will be released in "a day or two".

The Indian Consulate in Jeddah said Saudi authorities have acceded to its request and that of the Haj Ministry to let Siraj Fareed Muhammad and his aunt Hanifa Yousuf go back to India.

"The two pilgrims would be able to travel to India in a day or two. The Consulate is following the various formalities for their travel to India," it said.

The two Indians from Gujarat, who were arrested on arrival at the Jeddah airport on December 31 for carrying with them 250 grams of khas-khas, are currently lodged in Jeddah’s Briman deportation centre where the Consulate officials met them on Tuesday, Arab News reported on Wednesday.

The Consulate officials said the two were in good health and their relatives have been informed of their impending release.

The case has shocked hundreds of expat families in the kingdom. Although many knew the substance was banned, they had no idea that bringing in a mere 250 grams of khas-khas would have such dire consequences. 


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