For Prisoner No. 417 in Lisbon jail of Portugal, time is running out. And so is the patience of the family in Nawada district of Bihar.
Birendra Kumar, an Indian marine engineer, has been languishing in the Lisbon prison for over 14 months on the charges of drug trafficking, which he denies.
Family members say, Birendra is so distraught that he prays for death as the only possibility of release.
Birendra and 17 other crewmen, including six other Indians, three Nepalese, four Romanians and four Venezuelans, were charged with smuggling 2500 kgs of cocaine in the name of chemicals.
“It was the first time he went on sail, and look what has happened to him. The entire family has been ruined. I will eat poison if he does not come. Please do something,” said Sushila Devi, 65, mother of Birendra.
Her logic is simple: “My son is an engineer. His job was to steer the ship. He had nothing to do with the booking of cargo. The innocent soul has been framed. He wrote us a letter only once. I have not heard a world from him after that. His father has been running from pillar to post in Delhi, but nothing has happened so far,” she said, with tears in her eyes.
Nagendra, younger brother of Birendra, said his brother had complained that life was proving difficult in the prison. “Even basic things like toothpaste, soap etc. are not being supplied,” he added.
Birendra’s father Ishwar Dayal (a retired postmaster) has written to the President, Prime Minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Ministry of External Affairs, National Human Rights Commission as well as the Leader of Opposition LK Advani. “Birendra had absolutely no knowledge of the nature of the cargo, the Panamian ship MV LUNA DEL MAR was carrying,” he has written. He is now desperate to seek an appointment with the President.
According to Dayal, It was only when the Portuguese authorities conducted a thorough checking on Febrary 4, 2006, that the cargo turned out to be cocaine. Since then the entire crew has been detained. “However, no action was taken against consignor or the consignee, as only they knew the reality of the content booked as chemicals,” he has written.
Birendra did his marine engineering from Peterburgh in Russia some 10 years ago. He found assignment on the ship through a placement company “Pioneer Marine Services” at Belapur (Maharashtra). The proprietor of the company is a Gujarati named Badrisha, who helped Birendra through another agency located in “God Gift Tower”, office No.605,Bandra West Mumbai.
According to Dayal’s numerous petitions, Birendra innocence is proved by the Police Clearance Certificate issued to Ms. Patricia Lopez Fernandes (Govt. advocate provided to all the crew members by the Portuguese Government)/by V K Sharma, Attache (Admn & Cons) of the Embassy of India, Portugal(vide letter no.Lis/Cons/422/1/2006).
The NHRC registered a case No. 4419/4.2005-2006/UC and issued a notice to the Secretary, Ministery of Home Affairs, New Delhi on March 31, 2006 and sought to know the action taken within four weeks. Dayal said that the PM’s office had also forwarded the petition to the Secretary, External Affairs vide letter no.PMP-3/581281 dt.16-3-2006, but the matter was still confined to files only.