Muscat: The Oman Human Rights Commission (OHRC) has urged Indian authorities to either fast-track the case of eight Omanis detained in India on charges of child marriage and human trafficking of minors or to set them free.
“OHRC hopes that the Indian authorities will continue to provide sufficient guarantees to protect the rights of Omani detainees in India and accelerate their trials without any further delay, especially as one of them has been in detention since April 2014,” a statement by the commission read.
According to the commission, those who haven’t been proven guilty need to be sent back to Oman immediately. “The commission also hopes that those detained without proof of having committed the crime of marrying minors are be acquitted,” the statement read.
The OHRC, however, appreciated the efforts of its counterpart in India. “On the other hand, OHRC wishes to thank its counterpart, the National Human Rights Commission of India, for following up on the cases of Omani detainees,” it stated.
The final hearing that will decide the fate of these eight men is scheduled for April 27, 2018. “We have attended some four court sessions and the last session is scheduled for April 27. It is close to Ramadan and it’s unacceptable for us to fast in this country,” Talib Humeid Ali, one of the eight Omanis detained in Hyderabad over charges of child carriage, said.
The men, who claim they have been falsely accused, have been in India since September and cannot return to Oman as their passports have been confiscated by the court. “We were detained on September 15. We arrived at 4pm and were surprised to see a police raid at 6pm. They spoke to us, took our passports and electronic devices, and left us at the hotel,” Ali said.
According to Ali, they had come to India for treatment and not with the intention of marrying. Some of them are already married and have children back in Oman. They had to spend two months and four days in jail before getting released on bail.
“We are staying at the hotel without passports. If we are being charged, bring evidence that proves it. We demand our passports. We want to go back to our homeland safe. We have children. We are tired of staying in this country; we are honestly fed up,” Ali said.
The Hyderabad police, on the other hand, stated they have all the necessary evidence to prove that the accusations against these men were true.
“We received a complaint from a woman, who said some minor girls were getting married to Omani nationals. As per her complaint, we registered a human trafficking case and proceeded to Ghalib Residency, from where we arrested five Omani nationals. After a further investigation, we arrested three more Omani nationals,” Prakash Reddy, Inspector of Police, Hyderabad, said.
A total of 14 men, Omani and Indian, were arrested after a series of raids in September.
“They were remanded as per statements we recorded. Evidence was collected and a chargesheet was filed. They have been released on bail. They are not under house arrest. Their passports have been seized by courts and they can go back only after completion of the trial,” he further revealed.
Reddy also strongly condemned the practice of child marriage and said it was illegal in India, with or without consent.