Iqbal Hassan Meyah Khair Hassan, 62, has spent two years in jail over a debt of Dh1,046,000. Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: The 149 prisoners who received a pardon thanked His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, for his kind gesture.

Dr Shaikh Sultan announced amnesty for Indians serving sentences in Sharjah jails for financial and non-criminal cases.

The amnesty applies to 149 prisoners who have completed three years of their sentence.

Dr Shaikh Sultan will also pay off their debts amounting to Dh20 million.

He made this announcement during a ceremony organised by the University of Calicut at the official residence of Palanisamy Sathasivam, Governor of the South Indian state of Kerala, where he received an honorary doctorate.

Brigadier General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, praised Dr Shaikh Sultan’s humanitarianism and expressed hope that this will give the prisoners an opportunity to start life anew as responsible members of society.

Brig-Gen Al Shamsi said that His Highness’ gesture reflects the depth of our leadership’s attention to foreign and Asian communities in the UAE and the desire to follow up on their affairs to enable them to live with stability.

Prisoners speak

The pardoned prisoners expressed their happiness and gratitude after receiving the news. “We thank His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah for this kind gesture.”

Mohammad Mustafa Shaukat, 68, a taxi driver, has spent 15 years in jail because he did not possess the money to settle a debt.

The long incarceration saw him suffer from ill health and a deep agony for what he had subjected his sons and family to and the loss of his father and mother who died while he was behind bars.

On hearing of his pardon, Shaukat knelt on the ground in gratitude and thanked the Almighty for his mercy, barely able to believe his good luck. But he also wondered if his children would remember him. “I regret what I did,” he cried, saying it had cost him his years in prison.

He thanked the staff of the Sharjah Punitive and Rehabilitation Establishments for the treatment he received during his jail term.

“They treated us as human beings, not as prisoners,” he said.

“I thank Almighty Allah for this generous gesture which makes my soul come alive again and pray to Almighty Allah to protect the Ruler of Sharjah for his charity work, and the amnesty offered to prisoners,” he said.

Rashid Sulaiman Ashraf, 29, who spent a two-year jail term had liabilities of Dh1.2 million. Expressing regret for his actions, he said he was grateful for the sense of family he experienced in the prison. “We were treated respectfully, and not as sinners.”

Ashraf thanked the Sharjah Ruler for his kindness which will reunite him with his family.

Iqbal Hassan Meyah Khair Hassan, 62, has spent two years in jail over a debt of Dh1,046,000.

From being a partner in one of the largest companies in Sharjah to a defendant, it all happened in one moment of weakness.

On Tuesday, September 26, the administration summoned him to inform him about the pardon. “I will never forget this date in my life because it is my new birthday, the beginning of my life,” said Hassan.

“I extend my thanks and appreciation to Dr Shaikh Sultan for this humanitarian gesture. We all pray for him asking the Almighty to grant him health and a long life.”

Sittambaram Rivontan, 63, has spent six years behind bars as he had failed to settle a debt of Dh10,577,000 since 2011.

“Never in any country in the world is such generosity and kindness shown. The UAE and the emirate of Sharjah and its people are characterised by generosity and hospitality. May Allah protect the Ruler of Sharjah.”