Seventeen Indian youths on death row in the UAE in a murder case are set to be pardoned soon as family members of the victim, Pakistani national Mishri Khan, have finally agreed to accept blood money of Pakistani Rs 8 crore (Indian Rs 4 crore).
Talking to HT on the phone, Dubai-based philanthropist and businessman SP Singh Oberoi, who has been pursuing the case, said Pakistani Rs 10 lakh had been paid to Sarfraz Ahmed Khan, Mishri's brother, as token money.
Oberoi, founder member of the Indian Punjabi Society and president of NGO Sarbat Da Bhala, said, "We had been trying hard to convince the revenge-seeking family for a settlement through blood money.On Tuesday, Mishri's family, including his father, mother, wife, daughter and four brothers, agreed, and we immediately paid the token money."
He stated that during the court hearing on Wednesday, their representative, Mohammed Ramzan, informed the judges that Mishri's family was now ready for a compromise. "I presented a document to the judges, in which the family had acknowledged the receipt of Pakistani Rs 10 lakh as the down payment of the compensation. They will submit the official pardon letter once the full payment is received and the legal documentation completed," Oberoi added.
The next hearing of the appellate court is scheduled for July 27. "Subsequently, the death sentence will be commuted. The youths will then undergo three to five years' sentence, of which the three-year period already spent by them in jail will be deducted," he said.
"While the token money was paid out of court, I want that the remaining amount is given in the court during the next hearing," said Oberoi, who has made all payments so far from his own pocket.
"A couple of my friends have promised to contribute to pay the remaining amount. In case they fail to do it, I will do the needful myself," he added.
The 17 Indian youths are the following: Sukhjinder Singh, Sukhjot Singh, Ram Singh, Baljit Singh, Daljit Singh, Kulwinder Singh, Namjyot Singh, Satnam Singh, Dharampal Singh, Satgur Singh, Kashmir Singh, Sukhinder Singh, Suban Singh, Kuldeep Singh, Arvinder Singh, Harjinder Singh and Tarnjit Singh. While the first 16 hail from Punjab, the last one is from Haryana.
They were awarded death sentence on March 28 last year by the Sharjah Shariat law court for murdering Mishri Khan in January 2009 following a brawl over bootlegging.
An appeal was filed against the sentence. The Sharjah appellate court has held 15 hearings so far.
Dubai-based philanthropist SP Singh Oberoi thanked former Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh for efforts to save the convicted youths.
He said Amarinder met the convicts in the Sharjah jail last year and promised to bring them back to their families in Punjab. Oberoi said the former CM met the Sheikh of Abu Dhabi and the chief of police at Sharjah.
Negotiations with Mishri Khan's family in Pakistan were conducted with the cooperation of Khalid Mehmood Khan, president, Electronic Media of Pakistan, and representative of Sahara TV, Oberoi added.
What is blood money?
Blood money is a monetary or some other form of compensation paid by an offender (murderer) or his family or his tribe to the family or tribe of the victim.