Mumbai couple convicted in drug case in Qatar returns home

Mumbai couple convicted in drug case in Qatar returns home

Mumbai: Mumbai-based couple Oniba and Sharique Qureshi, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail in a drug case in Qatar in 2019, returned to the city on Thursday with their minor daughter after they were cleared of charges against them.

A Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) official said the couple landed at the Mumbai airport at 2.30 am.

The couple had been cleared of all charges after it came to light that a relative planted narcotics in their bag without their knowledge.

The couple was arrested at the Hamad International Airport in July 2019 after Qatari authorities recovered 4.1 kg of hashish in their bag. It later came to light that Sharique's aunt, Tabassum Qureshi, had used them to transport the drugs. The trip had been sponsored by Tabassum, the official said.

At that time, while Sharique was employed with a Japanese company, Oniba had just learnt that she was pregnant. She delivered a girl, Aayat, in jail last February. The couple's family members approached the Indian government, asking it to intervene in the matter.

Following this, the NCB got in touch with the authorities in Qatar and the family challenged the lower court order convicting the couple. Eventually, the couple was cleared of all charges.

Shareeq Qureshi (30) and his wife Oniba expressed happiness on returning home and narrated their ordeal follwing the arrest and the time spent in prison.

Speaking to PTI over the phone, Shareeq Qureshi said it feels good to be among family members in Mumbai.

"It is celebration time at our residence and guests are coming there since morning," he said.

Shareeq Qureshi expressed his gratitude towards the government, the NCB and the Mumbai Police for their efforts to bring them back. He said days spent in Qatar were tough.

"I was shocked when drugs were recovered from our luggage by the customs at the Qatar airport. In the next few minutes, we both were crying and thought everything has finished," he said.

"I was working in an MNC and my promotion was due. My wife was pregnant and we both were feeling helpless at the situation in which we had landed," said Shareeq Qureshi.

"We are at home only because of the efforts of our family members, the support and cooperation received from the government, NCB, police and the media," he said.

Oniba Qureshi said her daughter suffered a lot in those days and demanded stern action against the persons who had placed drugs in their luggage.

"No jail is good wherever it is located," she said, adding her husband saw his daughter after eight months as they were kept in separate cells.

There are some more innocent people in Qatar prisons who were trapped in such incidents and the government should make efforts for their release, Oniba Qureshi said.

Sharique Qureshi's father Sharif said this was the happiest day in his life.

This is a new life for my children, he said adding there is immense joy and happiness in house at the beginning of the holy month of Ramzan.

Sharif Qureshi had visited Qatar to fight legal battle for the release of his son and the daugther-in-law.

The couple's parents and other relative had gathered at the Mumbai airport hours before their arrival.

I am very much happy as I am meeting my granddaughter for the first time. She is one year and two months old, said Oniba's mother. We had been very worried for our children, a relative said.

We had submitted applications to the Prime Minister's Office, the Home Minister's Office, the Ministry of External Affairs, DG NCB Rakesh Asthana and also to the Mumbai police with a request to bring the couple as they were innocent, the relative said.

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