One hopes that our PM, who normally spends sleepless nights over the distress of Indians overseas (albeit when it makes a difference in vote bank politics) and his government’s effort to offer legal help makes some difference for these hapless Indians.
Seventeen Indians given death sentence for allegedly killing one Pakistani.
Perhaps that’s what the perceived value of a non-muslim Indian, in the Islamic Middle East, is, despite the best daydream of our now-disgraced-and-expulsed Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Shashi Tharoor, that another Middle East country, i.e. Saudi Arabia, could act as a “valuable interlocutor” between India and Pakistan.
One wonders why India, the reportedly the second largest business partner of UAE cannot be more assertive.
Why can’t our so called liberal, investigative, sting-loving media raise public awareness on this issue?
Is it because there are no secular browine points or no page three appeals in fighting for these poor, unglamourous Indians?
IANS / Abu Dhabi
Amnesty International has urged the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to investigate the alleged torture and forced confession of 17 Indian prisoners accused of killing a Pakistani.
The detainees were found guilty last month over the murder in the emirate of Sharjah and were sentenced to death.
“This is a mockery of justice. These 17 men have been tortured, forced to confess and sentenced to death based on a faked video,” Amnesty’s deputy director for Middle East and North Africa Hassiba Hadj Sharaoui said.
The rights group has asked the UAE authorities to probe the allegations of torture and abuse and ensure the 17 men receive a fair trial on appeal, Press TV reported Saturday.
Citing evidence provided by Indian rights group Lawyers For Human Rights International (LFHRI), Amnesty said: “The 17 men were beaten with clubs, given electric shocks, deprived of sleep and forced to stand on one leg for prolonged periods.”
The group also condemned UAE officials for notifying the prisoners about their death sentences 16 days after the verdict was issued. The accused have lodged an appeal and are due to be heard in court May 19.
Authorities in the UAE have made no comment about the allegations.
Amrita Chaudhry Posted online: Thursday , Apr 01, 2010 at 0332 hrs
Jaitu (Faridkot district) : Arvinder Singh, 21, could have been among the 17 sentenced to death by a Sharjah shariah court for killing a Pakistani man and injuring three others. He was among 70 people picked up soon after the incident in January last year. After spending about three months in jail, Arvinder was released. But he is not celebrating. His brother, Sukhjinder Singh, 22, is among those handed the death sentence.
Sixteen of the 17 accused hail from Punjab. Most families gathered today in Jaitu, about 115 km from Ludhiana, to launch an appeal asking both the state and Central governments to intervene in the case.
Among them was 96-year-old Anek Singh, grandfather of Arvinder and Sukhjinder. “Both the state government and the Indian government must intervene as soon as possible and help bring our sons back. They are innocent. We have 15 days to appeal,” he said.
Arvinder, who returned to his home in Patti district in June last year, claims that all the accused have been framed. “We were all picked up from different places and named as accused. Many of us did not even know each other. Some were picked up from the airport, while they were returning to India after their contracts had ended. Others, like my brother and me, were picked up from our homes,” said Arvinder.
“I have no clue about this fight or where it took place. My brother and I were sleeping in our room with other men when the police raided our place and rounded us all up. I am free but my brother is facing death sentence. I have to get him back home,” he said.
Barring the 17 on death row, all the rest have been released. “The worst thing was that we never knew what was happening. There was nobody to explain anything to us. We were never taken to court and were informed about the proceedings of the court in jail itself,” said Arvinder. “For the first three days, we were kept in police remand. All of us were tortured and not given any food or water. The situation became better when we were sent to jail,” he said.
On reports that the fight was over the illegal liquor business in the Al Sajaa area of Sharjah, he said: “There were some people who used to sell liquor to construction workers living in the area. We would often go and work with them when we did not have any other job.”
The families are set to meet Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur on Thursday. The minister said today that the government would extend all support to them.
Ranjit Kaur’s husband Dharampal is among those facing death sentence. “For almost a year, I never knew he was in jail. It was just a few months back that he told us he was in jail, after his company stopped paying us his salary,” she said.
“I talked to him on Sunday, he sounded fine. He assured me that he would be back in a month or so. The news about the death sentence shattered my world,” said Ranjit, who has two minor children,
Another accused is Baljeet Singh, who was the sole breadwinner of his family. His widowed mother and younger brother are living with his uncle Daljeet Singh in Aitiana village near Raikot, Jagraon. “Baljeet has always maintained that he is innocent. He said he didn’t even know what the charges against him were. This is like a bad dream,” said Daljeet.
Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Patti, said: “My brother Kulwinder Singh told me that they have been framed. They were picked up by the police from their room at night. My brother was not involved in the fight, but nobody is listening to him. Language is also a huge problem.”
“We are all poor, and have no access to the people in power. It is sad that neither Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal nor Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal have come to our help. The government is our only hope now,” said Jagdev Singh, father of Sukhjot Singh, 23, who is among the accused.