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A court in United Arab Emirates (UAE) has sentenced to death 10 youths from Punjab for the murder of a Pakistani national in December last year during a brawl over bootlegging in Al Ain city. Another youth, also booked in the case, has been spared the gallows but fined of Rs 2 lakh.
The order came on December 1.
The families of these youths, all in their 20s, have pleaded their innocence and urged the state and central governments to step in and bring them back to India.
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The 11 men are: Harpreet Singh and Ajay Kumar of Nawanshahr, Satminder Singh of Barnala; Chander Shekhar of Hoshiarpur, Hajinder of Moga, Kulwinder Singh, and Dharamvir Singh of Ludhiana;Tarsem Singh of Amritsar; Gurpreet Singh of Patiala; Jagjit Singh (Gurdaspur) and Toni of Batala.
In the past, their families had approached AAP and BJP leaders, and had even met even the Chairman of Punjab State SC Commission, but to no avail. After that, they approached Dubai-based hotelier SP Singh Oberoi, who runs a campaign to save death row convicts and has saved 17 youths from Punjab and Haryana in the past. Oberoi told The Indian Express informed he had already filed an appeal in the High Court in Abu Dhabi.
All the youths are from poor families, working there as plumbers, electricians, masons and carpenters.
Narinder Kaur of Kultham village of Nawan Shahr district said her husband Harpreet Singh (24) had gone there as an electrician just a few days before the incident. He went to Dubai on December 13 and was caught in the case just 15 days after his landing there. “He told me all of them were sitting in their room and having dinner when they heard noise from outside and rushed out where a brawl was already taking place,” says Narinder.
Harpreet had gone to Dubai just three months after his marriage and has been in jail since December last year. “All our dreams for the future life have been shattered. Our only hope is Oberoi,” says an inconsolable Narinder, a double masters in political science and history.
Ranjit Kaur from Haveli village in Hoshiarpur district too was inconsolable. Her 23-year-old son Chander Shkhar is among those who are on the death row. “I had sent him to Dubai on December 14, 2014, after taking a loan of Rs 80,000. In 11 months, he only sent us Rs 30,000, after which he was arrested in this case,” says the mother, adding that she has three more children, including two daughters. Her husband is a labourer.
Chander Shekhar was a tile mason in Alain.
Toni (24) of Batala too had paid Rs 90,000 to an agent and had gone to UAE last year. His mother Venus is a mid-day meal worker in school. His father is bed-ridden.
Thikriwal village’s Satminder Singh (25) was to fly back to his home just a week after this incident. His father Jagtar Singh, who runs a flour mill in the village, says he had even met AAP MP Bhagwant Mann, but nothing could be done.
Ajay Kumar (27) of Punia village near Banga in Nawan Shahr district had also gone there as a labourer. His mother Madhu says they had taken Rs 60,000 on loan to send him there.
Sadhu Singh and his wife Harminder Kaur of Rode village in Ludhiana say their son Dharamvir Singh (25) had gone to Dubai three years back. The family is a blue card beneficiary and does even earn enough for two meals a day. Sadhu Singh collects scrap while his wife is a household maid.
Similar were the stories from the families of Kulwinder Singh of Ludhiana, Harjinder Singh of Moga, Gurpreet Singh of Patiala and Jagjit Singh of Gurdaspur.
Oberoi said he would fight the case till the last and also try to make negotiations for “blood money” to the victim’s family. “As per the law in UAE, ‘blood Money’ is permitted if the family of the deceased agrees,” he said.