After their release from the Sharjah central jail in Dubai where they were on death row, it was an emotional and tearful reunion for the three Punjab youths with their families here Tuesday.
These youths, in their twenties, were sentenced to death in Dubai in the case of bootlegging and murder. But their lives were saved by the efforts of a Dubai-based NGO ‘Sarbat Da Bhala’ that has paid blood money to secure their release.
They were released from the jail on May 29 and reached Punjab Tuesday morning.
The three young men are Kashmiri Lal, resident of Bhar Singh Pura village in Nawanshahr district, Trilochan Singh and Pradeep Kumar of Sakroli and Fatehgarh Naira villages (both in Hoshairpur district) respectively.
“We have paid Rs18 lakh as blood money. I shelled out Rs12 lakh from my own pocket and the rest of the amount was arranged by the victims' families. It was not at all easy to convince the other party to take the blood money,” SP Singh Oberoi, founder of ‘Sarbat Da Bhala’, who accompanied the youths from Dubai, told IANS Tuesday.
“I held meetings with the father of the deceased several times to convince him. Besides, it included a long paper work. They agreed to take blood money in July last year but it still took 11 months for the release,” he pointed out.
The three Punjabi men were involved in bootlegging, which led to the murder of a fellow Indian Bikram Jeet Singh, resident of Dayalgarh village in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, in October 2008. Thereafter, they were arrested and were sentenced to death in 2009.
All three Punjabi men belonged to lower middle-class families of Punjab and they had gone to Dubai in search of a better future.
They had taken huge loans from banks and private money-lenders to pursue their foreign dreams. But they have returned in a distraught state.
“Last three years were the most difficult phase of our life and we had actually lost all hopes of returning home. We were falsely implicated in this case and were arrested by the police just on the basis of suspicion. I think nobody should leave his home and go abroad,” Kashmiri Lal told IANS.
Pardeep Kumar told IANS, “They forced us to sign a paper that had some text written in Arabic language. We did not understand it. Moreover, nobody provided us any interpreter and we were very helpless when the court announced death sentence for us. We owe our life to SP Singh and his NGO.”
SP Singh Oberoi, a Dubai-based businessman, is involved in many other humanitarian activities in Punjab. So far, he has also sponsored over 6,000 marriages of under-privileged youths here.
Around 32 families, whose relatives are lodged in Dubai jails, came here Tuesday to meet Oberoi.
In one case, 16 Punjabi boys were sentenced to death by a Shariat court in Sharjah in March 2010. They were convicted of murdering a Pakistani man and injuring three others in January 2009 following a fight over illegal liquor business.