17 Indian youth on death row in UAE to walk free

Chandigarh/Sharjah:Seventeen Indian youth on a death row in the United Arab Emirates for the death of a Pakistani national could walk free October after members of the Indian community in Dubai deposited “blood money” in a court in Sharjah to secure a pardon for them.

Community representatives, led by Dubai hotelier S.P. Singh Oberoi, deposited 3.4 million dirhams (Rs.40.8 million/Rs.4 crore) with the Sharjah court in the presence of Mohammed Ramzan, a representative of victim Misri Khan’s family.

The 17 men, 16 from Punjab and one from Haryana, had been sentenced to death by a Shariat court in Sharjah March 2010. They were convicted of murdering Misri Khan, and injuring three others January 2009, following a fight over illegal liquor business.

The murder took place in Al Sajaa area of Sharjah. The victim, who died of stab wounds, had also suffered brain damage, police had said.

Ramzan signed documents waiving the family’s right to demand the death penalty for Khan’s murder. The court has fixed the next hearing Sep 12 when it is likely to pardon all Indian youth and set the process to free them by October.

The news has brought hope and cheer to families of the youth in India.

“I am happy to announce that 17 of our youth who were convicted and sentenced to death have finally been granted pardon by a court today only,” said former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh, who had met the youth in prison last year and assured help, said.

Oberoi, who ensured that money was collected by the Punjabi community in UAE to save the youth from gallows, had earlier said that Mishri Khan’s father, mother, widow, daughter and all four brothers, had agreed to a monetary compensation of (Pakistani) Rs.8 crore (Rs.4 crore approx). This amount included 442,000 dirhams (Rs.5 million/Rs.50 lakh) as “blood money” and the balance as “compensation” for the family.

The Indian men had all along maintained that they were not involved in the murder of the Pakistani national and that they had been framed in this case.

Certain NGOs and the jailed youth had even opposed earlier attempts to pay blood money to the victim’s family saying that this would mean admission to the guilt of murder which they had not committed.

All the convicted men in UAE are between 17 and 30 years of age and all of them belong to lower middle-class families in India. The Indian consulate had hired a law firm in UAE to defend the case. (IANS)