Shreyas S H
Daijiworld Media Network
Karkala/Kuwait, Mar 26: Sometime ago, young Melwin Fernandes from Karkala tried to help his neighbour by carrying a pain killer medicine to Kuwait to hand it over to her husband, but the simple offer to help turned into a tragic situation, after Melwin was arrested by Kuwaiti authorities at the airport, because the pain killer he was carrying was banned in the country.
On February 9, Melwin was arrested for carrying the drug Tramadol (a pain killer). His wife, Carol Fernandes claimed that he was unaware of the contents in the parcel handed over to him by the neighbour, and said that her husband was coldly cheated by the neighbour whom they had trusted.
Melwin Fernades, working as a field service supervisor in Kuwait, is married to Carol and the couple has two young daughters.
Carol speaking in detail about the incident to daijiworld said, "While Melwin was readying himself to depart from India, our neighbour, Justine Castelino gave a parcel requesting it to be handed over to her husband Richard Castelino residing in Kuwait, who is also a friend of Melwin.
"When questioned about the parcel, Justine said it contained 2 kg of meat, a bottle of pickle, a packet of masala powder and some medicines. Since the neighbour was trustworthy and had earlier given such parcels, we believed her and accepted the parcel without bothering to open and check it," she said.
She was in for a shock, when on February 10 morning she got a call from her husband saying that he had been detained by the Kuwait customs officials for carrying a banned drug without prescription. He instructed Carol to ring up Richard Castelino and ask him to come to the airport with authentic prescription for the medicine.
Accordingly, Carol called up Richard, who consoled her and promised to get Melwin released within two hours after investigation procedures were completed.
"However, even after two days Melwin was not released and when I contacted Richard again, he tried to evade and made fraudulent statements," Carol said. Jolted by the developments, she contacted the Indian Embassy with the help of noted activist Pascal Pinto and also sent an email to the Embassy. Carol said that after she approached Pascal for help, he started getting threats, warning him not to intervene.
On digging deeper into the incident, she learnt that the tablet was banned in Kuwait, and hence Melwin was arrested and sent to Sulaibiya jail.
Currently she has taken legal recourse, hiring a lawyer to fight for his release. "The tablets belonged to Richard, so he has to face legal action and be sent to jail," she asserted.
Carol said she found that the tablets were purchased from Maharashtra with the help of Castelino’s relatives.
She also filed a complaint in Karkala town police station against Justine for allegedly cheating her husband.
When daijiworld contacted Justine, she denied Carol's allegations. "We have not done anything wrong. I gave the tablets without knowing that they were banned in Kuwait. It was his (Melwin) duty to check the authenticity of the tablets. He has travelled many times to and fro Kuwait. He knows the rules better than me," she said, adding, "It is better you go to Kuwait than talking to me."
"The Indian community, specially the Embassy in Kuwait needs to help Melwin as he is innocent. He only tried to help a person without the knowledge of banned medicines," Carol requested.
The story of Melwin is a lesson to every international passenger. It is highly advisable to learn the laws of the country one is travelling to, and be doubly sure of what one is carrying. Items that are allowed in one country may be banned in others. In Dubai too, a Mangalorean lady has been languishing in prison for the last five years for carrying 'khaskhas' (poppy seeds) which is banned there.
Associations in Kuwait or individuals who wish to help the family can contact Carol by email: email@example.com