Wide smiles of delight were plastered on the faces of 149 Indian prisoners who were released from Sharjah jail following the amnesty decree issued by His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, during his recent visit to the Indian state of Kerala.
These Indian prisoners were jailed in financial cases and for minor offences. The Sharjah government paid off the debt of the prisoners and released them.
68-year-old Mohammad Mustafa Shawkat was jailed for the past 15 years. He worked as a taxi driver since 1970 in Sharjah, till he got arrested over a financial crime. Shawkat's jail term ended years ago, but he languished in prison as he was unable to settle the amount according to the court order. He was always worried about his children and he was unable to see his parents in their last moments as they passed away when he was behind bars.
Expressing his happiness on being released from jail, Shawkat said, “I kept praying everyday for help. Now I will see the light again and will be able to unite with my wife and children back home.”
In a similar case, Rashid Sulaiman Ashraf (29) spent two years in jail for debts of over 1 million dirhams. He was working in a private company when mounting debt put him behind bars.
On being released from jail, he said, “I lost my soul inside the jail. Now, I have regained it.”
Thanking the Ruler of Sharjah Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, he said, “I really thank the Ruler of Sharjah for this gesture and the prison officials for treating us with dignity. While I was serving my term, the officials helped me workout in the gym, read books in the library and also learn the Arabic language and Islamic teachings.”
57 year-old Chidambaram Raveendran was jailed in 2011 for failing to pay debt of over AED10.57 million. He said, “I can't express my happiness. I appreciate the concerns of the Sharjah Ruler regarding the Indian community and about the people of Kerala, in particular. The Ruler has restored the confidence in us and in our families.”
Meanwhile, Brig Saif Al Zeri Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of the Sharjah Police, praised the directives of Ruler of Sharjah. He said, “The prisoners had completed paying their debt to society and now they are prepared to reunite with their families.”
He added, “The gesture of the Ruler of Sharjah towards the Indian community reflects the deep interest of our wise leadership in the situation of the foreign and Asian communities living in the country and their keenness to follow up their affairs and overcome the obstacles facing them.”