Qatar pardons 14 Nepali prisonersThe Qatari government bears all the expenses for the repatriation of the pardoned Nepalis.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
As many as 14 Nepalis who were in various jails in Qatar have recently been pardoned by the Qatari government on the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Nepali embassy in Doha said they can return home soon.
According to the Nepal Embassy in Doha, Qatar, the pardoned prisoners were serving their terms in Qatar’s central jail and other prisons.
“Every year, mainly on the occasion of Ramadan, the emir of Qatar pardons many prisoners. As per the same tradition, 14 Nepali prisoners have been pardoned,” Narad Nath Bharadwaj, Nepali ambassador to Qatar, told the Post, over the phone from Doha. “We had also requested the Qatari government to also pardon many other Nepalis who are in jail for minor offences.”
Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the emir, had announced last month that the prisoners who showed good behaviour and character were being pardoned.
“Nepali prisoners who received the pardon were serving jail terms for minor offences, like theft or selling abortion pills among others,” said Bharadwaj. “Now we are making arrangements to send them home.”
Once the prisoners are released, they will be taken to separate camps until their deportation.
The embassy has been coordinating with the Qatari government for the repatriation of the released Nepali prisoners. According to the ambassador, those with no official identification documents, will be issued one-way travel documents to return home.
“Sometimes, even the embassy officials are called for the verification of Nepali citizens before they are sent home,” said Bharadwaj. “Some of them might not even have passports whereas others’ passports might have expired. So we need to issue them travel documents.”
However, the exact date of their repatriation has not yet been fixed.
Since the government of Nepal has suspended international flights until May 14 as part of its Covid-19 containment efforts, the government will need to make special arrangements if it wants to bring the Nepalis home before May 14.
According to Bharadwaj, the Nepali envoy, the Qatari government bears all the expenses for the repatriation of the pardoned Nepalis.
“If regular flights resume early, they can be flown back by those flights. If not they can be sent home on a chartered flight,” said Bharadwaj. “The embassy is working to supply some medical logistics to Nepal by a chartered flight, so the released Nepalis can be sent on the same flight.”
As per the government records, nearly 400,000 Nepalis migrant workers are living and working in the gas-rich nation, which is one of the most popular labour destinations for Nepali workers for years.
Last year, when the Covid-19 pandemic had ravaged the Gulf state, various reports stated that Nepali workers were compelled to live in squalid conditions, which increased the risk of Covid-19 infection.
Nepalis have received similar pardons even in the past on the occasions of Ramadan or the Qatari National Day.
Besides the latest group of Nepali prisoners, the Nepal embassy in Doha had previously requested the local government to release other Nepali inmates saying they could contract Covid-19 in congregate conditions. According to the embassy, 45 Nepalis are still languishing in Qatari prisons.