Kuala Lumpur : A Malaysian Indian woman is lying grievously ill in a prison in the Peruvian capital Lima after she was detained when three kilograms of cocaine were found in her luggage.
Punitha K.K. Samy, 50, who was last heard of in August 2006, is apparently yet another case of women travelling alone being used as drug carriers by international syndicates that operate in several countries including India, say Malaysian authorities.
Her case could boost the government’s controversial plan to make a law that would require a woman taking a flight alone to get permission from her family members.
The Peruvian prison authorities have contacted Kalai Kumar, a friend and former employer in Ampang here, to inform that she was very ill.
“Punitha gave the prison authorities my contact number. They told me she is suffering from stomach cancer and tuberculosis,” Kumar told the New Straits Times Sunday.
“The caller told me they could not contact Punitha’s family and that she gave them my name,” Kumar, who also goes by the spiritual name of Tarapith Yantra Yogi and is the founder of the Tantra Yoga Hindu Organisation, said.
He said Punitha lost contact with her family nine years ago. With nowhere to go, she sought help at his organisation in Pinggiran Batu Caves in Selangor state.
“She stayed and worked with us. She was a social worker who was active in charity work.”
According to Kumar, Punitha left for Dublin, Ireland, in 2005 where she worked as a maid for about a year.
“She returned to Malaysia and worked with me for several months before she packed her bags and said she was going to find a job in Europe.
“The last I spoke to her was in August 2006 when she called me from Spain to say she had met and fallen in love with a Nigerian and that they were going to get married.”
Then came the call from the Peruvian prison which shocked Kumar.
“I don’t know exactly what happened but I believe she could have been duped by her Nigerian lover into carrying the drugs for him,” he said, urging Punitha’s family to contact her.
Kumar’s mission now is to bring her back, and he is seeking the assistance of the authorities here as well as NGOs.
The government move to monitor “fly-alone-women”, announced Saturday last, has been panned by women’s organisations and NGOs as violation of law and of basic human rights.
The government says it is only trying to fight a growing menace. Ninety percent of the 119 Malaysians caught trafficking in drugs last years were women.
The vast majority of these women are aged between 21 and 27 and are believed to have been duped or forced into being “mules” for drug syndicates.
It is learnt that Malaysians were prime targets for these syndicates wanting to smuggle drugs into European Union countries, as they do not require visas for stays of up to 90 days or to transit in those countries.