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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 22 May 2024

Muslims team up to free Kerala Hindu jailed in Qatar over accidental death

Divesh Lal, 28, had parked his water tanker to enter a nearby shop on January 8 when the vehicle rolled back and hit an Egyptian national who later died

K.M. Rakesh Bangalore Published 12.05.23, 05:13 AM
Lal had spent 74 days in jail before being released on account of the month of Ramazan when certain categories of undertrials are freed temporarily.

Lal had spent 74 days in jail before being released on account of the month of Ramazan when certain categories of undertrials are freed temporarily. Representational picture

The Indian Union Muslim League has mobilised the blood money required to free a Kerala Hindu who works as a lorry driver in Qatar after he was jailed over an accidental death, in what is being termed as the “real Kerala story”, that too in Malappuram that is often a Right-wing target.

Divesh Lal, 28, had parked his water tanker to enter a nearby shop on January 8 when the vehicle rolled back and hit an Egyptian national who later died. Lal was jailed and offered two options in keeping with the law of the land — secure his freedom by paying blood money to the family of the deceased or serve the entire prison sentence.

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Kerala state chief of the Muslim Youth League, Panakkad Sayyid Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal, launched a campaign to collect the required money to free Lal and bring him back to his family at Perinthalmanna in Malappuram.

“Blood money of Rs 46 lakh was needed to free Divesh Lal, who was jailed after his vehicle accidentally killed an Egyptian man. Many have responded to the appeal to bring the young man back to his poor family,” Thangal said in a Facebook post, announcing the closure of the donation drive on Wednesday.

While a Qatar-based Malayali businessman connected to the IUML donated Rs 16 lakh, the Kerala Muslim Cultural Centre, which is linked to the party and is based in the Gulf nation, pitched in with Rs 4 lakh. A collective of Qatar-based NRIs from Malappuram donated Rs 6 lakh.

“The remaining Rs 20 lakh was collected through donations from Malappuram within three days of Thangal’s appeal last week,” Aziz Pattikkad, IUML leader and chairman of the Perinthalmanna block panchayat standing committee, told The Telegraph on Thursday.

The IUML had formed a special committee under Vallikkunnu MLA Abdul Hamed Master to supervise the mobilisation of the funds and its transfer to Qatar.

“As we speak, the legal formalities are underway in Qatar where the money will be paid to the kin of the deceased Egyptian national before the release order is processed to free Lal,” Aziz said.

Lal, who hails from a poor family, had headed to Qatar to work as a driver to repay the housing loan of Rs 10 lakh he had taken from a local bank.

Lal had spent 74 days in jail before being released on account of the month of Ramazan when certain categories of undertrials are freed temporarily. He is set to return to prison on May 20. “We hope to complete all formalities before that to ensure he doesn’t have to go back to jail,” Aziz said.

While the act of kindness from the IUML and the larger Muslim community of Malappuram is nothing unusual, the mission has coincided with the controversy stirred up by The Kerala Story, which purports to show that girls from Kerala are forcibly converted and sent to join the Islamic State as “jihadi brides”.

Thangal said: “We have been seeing such acts of kindness and generosity for decades in Kerala. But these acts get highlighted when seen against the backdrop of hate campaigns by certain sections that are trying to tarnish the image of a state and itspeople.”

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