NRIs pay blood money to save Kerala worker from gallows

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New Delhi, Apr 4 (UNI) An Indian hotel worker in Kuwait, despatched to the death row for killing a Nepalese girl, may get a new lease of life after some cash-rich NRIs opened their pursestrings to pay a whopping Rs two million as 'blood money' to the victim's family.

Kerala's Shoukat Thikaseri, employed as a cleaner in a Kuwait hotel, was awarded death sentence last year on the charge of killing Jamuna Thapa, who worked as a housemaid for her sustenance.

As the shadows of death continued to lengthen on his face, the convict got an unexpected help from three Indian businessmen who toted up Rs two million (50,000 dollars), which was paid to the victim's family as 'blood money'.

But the munificence of the three NRIs would not have been possible had Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Vyalar Ravi not intervened in the matter.

''I took up the issue with Kerela Chief Minister V S Achuthanandan, who, in turn, approached M A Yusuf Ali, a rich businessman in the UAE who decided to donate Rs one million,'' Mr Ravi told UNI.

Mr Ali's efforts were supplemented by Dubai-based businessman S S Aggarwal and Chennai-based Faris Aboobacker, who chipped in with Rs 500,000 each.

Mr Ravi then sent an official of his ministry to Nepal, who paid the money to Thapa's family members and procured their signatures on the legal papers. These papers will now be sent to the Indian Mission in Kuwait, which will subsequently submit it to the Labour Ministry.

Thikaseri, who worked in the hotel in Kuwait's Jehra Al Khasar region, did not actually kill the girl. He was head over heels in love with the Nepalaese girl, who also reciprocated his feelings.

The duo tried to commit suicide after the girl's family did not approve of their relationship.

Call it a quirk of fate, Thikaseri survived, but the girl died after their suicide bid.

Taking cognizance of the crime, an Islamic court in Kuwait sentenced him to death, holding him responsible for the girl's death.

Mr Ravi took up the case of the condemned prisoner after the latter's family approached him to take up the case. The minister first broached the issue to Nepalese authorities in Abu Dhabi in January this year where he had gone to attend a ministerial meet on overseas employment.

The Nepalese authorities then helped him trace Thapa's family, which was residing in Nepal's Lumbini province.

What followed was a series of negotiations between the two sides, and Thapa's family settled for an amount of Rs two million as price tag for Thikaseri's freedom.

'Blood money' is a fine which is paid to the next of kin of someone who has been killed intentionally. The laws in Kuwait mandate acquittal of the convict if he/she is pardoned by the victim's family.

UNI/SKS SP RK1844

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