Monday, November 29, 1999

On death row in Dubai for 23 yrs, Indian`s mercy plea: Hang me now

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While India is providing legal help to 17 Indians sentenced to be shot in Sharjah for murdering a Pakistani, in next-door Dubai, a 64-year-old carpenter from Tamil Nadu - forgotten for the past 23 years - is seeking his own quick execution.Paul George Nadar was sentenced to be hanged by the Dubai Civil Court in July 1987 for killing nine family members of two Pakistanis, who had beaten him up following a fight. He was drunk when he poured an industrial solution on the plywood shanties the families lived in, and set them afire, in 1985. Two women and seven children died.Then fate intervened - not long after he was sent to the gallows, the UAE did a rethink on executions, which were common at that time. Now only very exceptional cases can get death by hanging. Only six people have been shot or sent to the gallows in the last decade and half. Meanwhile, waiting for execution, Nadar has served the longest time on death row by an Indian in Dubai.Nadar's family even pleaded, begged, borrowed to mop up the diya (blood money) of 65,000 Dirhams required for the tanseel (no objection to pardon certificate) from the kin of the dead Pakistanis.The certificate, signed by 14 of them in July 1995, states: "The dependent pardons/forgives the accused Paul George Nadar and demands nothing from him. We also appeal for mercy of the accused in the name of Allah. It is the will of the court to acquit the accused or to award lesser penalty... the dependents have no objection to it."Inayatallah Rahmatallah and Abdulkadir Bit Mohammed Abdullah, the two Pakistanis who lost their wives and children in the blaze set off by Nadar, also put in a supporting affidavit in the Dubai court, saying they had reconciled with Nadar and his relatives. "We declare that we have surrendered all our personal rights and Paul is innocent from any personal or financial rights... We do not object to alleviating his penalty or taking any measure.... useful for him," they wrote.But that did not help. Nadar remained on the death row.As his family tried to secure his release outside, Nadar himself sent mercy petitions, hundreds of them, to everyone he could think of in the Indian Government - the Prime Minister, President, successive Indian ambassadors, politicians, social workers - and Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. The last of his mercy petitions was handed over by Paul's daughter to ousted External Affairs minister Shashi Tharoor a year ago, when he visited the UAE.Nadar says no one ever responded. "My mind had snapped for a moment. This resulted in the death of those Pakistani families," he had said in one of his petitions to Dubai's ruler.Indian Consulate officials in Dubai say they have been forwarding his mercy petitions to the concerned, but his release would need no less than a special order from Dubai's ruler. Dubai court documents show his last appeal was heard on January 27, 2009, and his last mercy petition rejected on February 17, 2009.If his plea for an early execution is not heard, Nadar is likely to stay in jail till he dies - in what has come to be the practice now. There are 23 prisoners like Nadar in the jail, while the last actual execution in Dubai was carried out in 2002.Nadar says he realises he doesn't "deserve to be free". However, he pleads that mercy be shown to him so that he can at least see the world outside once and meet his family, especially his father, one last time "before I die". Nadar's father Michael Das is now about 100 years old; they last saw each other around 28 years ago.His brother Sebastian Paul - with whom he ran a carpentry workshop in Ferj Murar area of Dubai at the time he was arrested - says their bedridden father still opens his eyes and tries to sit up whenever he hears a visitor at their village home in Tamil Nadu. "When he realises it is not Paul, he starts weeping."Nadar's son Subba Rajan, three years' old at the time he was arrested, is now 27 and an engineer working in Dubai. His daughter Sumithra Gerald, who was 10 when he went to jail, married and moved to Sharjah, and now stays just a few kilometres away from Nadar's jail.Abdul Naser, an Indian social worker from the Kerala Youth and Cultural Club (KYCC), who accompanies Indian Consulate officials on their visits to the jail, has been seeing Nadar regularly for the past three years. Last year, he took special permission so that Nadar's wife, now 55, could come to Dubai to visit him. They saw each other after 22 years. "They met in the prison yard," says Naser. "And the two spent most of the allowed time weeping."

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