Thiruvananthapuram: One family in Kerala, the Keyis of Kannur district, may have
struck gold -- the state government has taken up with the centre
the issue of about $900 million due to them, being held by the
treasury of Saudi Arabia.
The state government is urging the centre to intervene to ensure
the transfer of the money, amounting, in the 1950s, to 1.4 million
Saudi riyals (one riyal today is equal to Rs.14.40), which has
been lying in the Saudi treasury for the past nearly six decades.
Speaking to IANS, P. Naseer, director of the Minority Welfare
Department, said that the Keyi family had, for over ten years,
been trying to gain possession of the amount.
"The Kerala government has now appointed a special officer for
this, to take up the matter with the centre. The centre will, in
turn, have to speak to the Saudi Arabian authorities. The Keyi
family has been trying for many years, but little headway has been
made," Naseer told IANS.
Naseer said the matter was something he studied as part of his
"The history of this treasure is like this: 136 years ago, a
member of the Keyi family purchased land in the holy land of
Mecca, and built a resting place for Haj pilgrims," Naseer said.
"In the 1950s, when the authorities, as part of modernisation of
the infrastructure in and around Mecca, acquired this property,
they set aside as compensation 1.4 million Saudi riyals. No one
from the Keyi family has been able to effectively stake its claim
to the money, with proper records," Naseer explained.
As per Wakf rules, any property dedicated to Allah can be claimed
by none other than the person himself or his descendents. The Keyi
family is thus entitled to the money, the director of the state
minority welfare department said.
"According to current estimates, the deposit that is with the
Saudi treasury would now be worth more than Rs.5,000 crore (about
$900 million). Under Saudi law, if the family gets the money, it
will have to use it there itself. The sum is enough to build
residential properties for accommodating the faithful who arrive
in the holy land," Naseer said.
Since 2001, the Keyi family has been attempting to claim the
money. The then A.K. Antony government in the state had entrusted
the matter to an official.
The present Oommen Chandy government has now appointed a special
officer to liaison with the centre and concerned departments in