No need for blood money, say families of Indians on UAE death row

Friday, December 31, 2010

CHANDIGARH - Stating that their kin were innocent, the family members of the 17 Indians who are on death row in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and a Punjab-based NGO pursuing their case have opposed the giving of blood money to secure their release.

“There is no need to give any blood money for the release of the Indian youths. It is given in those cases where conviction has been proved through evidence. But in this case they are innocent and Sharjah police have not found any evidence against them,” Navkiran Singh, representative of NGO Lawyers For Human Rights International (LFHRI), told IANS Friday.

He added: “We want to bring them back clean. But once we pay the blood money it will automatically proved them guilty. Besides these 17 men, there are many other innocent Indian youths lodged in UAE jails and we cannot pay blood money for all of them.”

Seventeen Indians, 16 from Punjab and one from Haryana, were sentenced to death by a court in Sharjah in March 2010. They were convicted of murdering a Pakistani man and injuring three in January 2009 following a fight over illegal liquor business.

The murder took place in Al Sajaa area of Sharjah in the UAE. The victim, who was identified as Misri Nazir Khan, died of stab wounds and also suffered brain damage, police said.

A few months back, the Ansar Burney Trust, run by Pakistan’s former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney, had offered to pay the blood money to the family of the victim in Pakistan.

Jhony Singh, brother of 27-year-old Navjot Singh, who is lodged in Sharjah jail, told IANS: “I have talked to Navjot and he was very unhappy over this matter. He was totally against giving any blood money. He told me that he was fine and was very hopeful for an early release.”

Sher Singh, whose nephew Sukhjinder Singh is also lodged in Sharjah jail, said: “My nephew is innocent; so why should we pay blood money for his release. We want both Punjab and central government to intervene in this issue to save 17 innocent lives.”

All the convicted men are between 17 and 30 years of age and all belong to lower middle-class families.

The Indian consulate has hired a law firm in UAE to defend their case.

Navkiran Singh, who had visited UAE to keep a track of the case, said: “There are some people who do not know anything about this case and just offered to pay blood money. We cannot go by such people. Even the Indian high commission is not in the favour of giving blood money.”

“A majority of the 17 youth belong to poor families. When their family members came to know that someone else was paying money for the release, they immediately got ready. But now they have also realised the glitch and want the Sharjah court to acquit them on the basis of evidence,” he added.

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