AMRITSAR (TIP): The 17 men whoreturned to India on Tuesday after asgood as cheating death in the UAE couldneither praise god enough nor controltheir emotions on seeing their families.Convicted in the 2009 murder of aPakistani national, they could get awayonly because crores were paid as ‘bloodmoney’ for their pardon.They and their family membersthanked SPS Oberoi, a Dubai-basedbusinessman who contested their casesand ensured their safe return.The men, most of whom had paidhefty amounts to agents to secure’highly paid’ jobs abroad, were arrestedin Sharjah for the murder of Misri Khanand for injuring one Mushtaq Ahamdduring a brawl over the sale of illegalliquor.
A court later sentenced them todeath.But following the intervention ofOberoi, president of the Sarbat Da BhalaTrust, Khan’s family agreed to accept Rs8 crore in Pakistan currency as bloodmoney in return for pardoning them. InJuly 2011, compensation was also paid toAhmad’s family.All the men denied they had a hand inKhan’s death and claimed they had beenimplicated in a false case.”I was so shocked I started tremblingwhen the judge pronounced the deathsentence; it seemed the end for all of us,”said Dharmapla Singh of Jhoke TehalSinghwala in Ferozpur district.
Hisfamily had paid Rs 1 lakh to an agent forgetting him a job in Dubai. “None of uswill ever cross the Indian border again,”said Dharampla, a father of two. “It ishell out there if one goes illegally.”Kashmir Singh of Rattukae village inTarn Taran district went to Sharjah toensure a better future for his twodaughters. “I am thankful to be alive,” hesaid. “It is better to have two meals hereand live with one’s family than to be injail under constant threat of the noose.”Kuldeep Singh of Kukrana village inMoga district said: “My elder brotherdied of shock when he heard about mydeath sentence. It was a tough time forthe family, but now I am back to takecare of them.”