DUBAI // The families of two Indian men awaiting execution are desperately searching for relatives of the men they were found guilty of raping, murdering and then burying alive.
Under Sharia law the families of the murder victims may repeal the death sentence handed down to Major Singh Gurmej and Amarjeet Singh Gurcharan if they pardon them in exchange for a blood money payment. But neither victims' family has ever been identified.
"The only way for the two men to avoid the firing squad is to locate the families of their victims and acquire a pardon from them," said Dr Ali Al Jarman, a managing partner at Prestige Advocates Dubai.
The families are prepared to pay the Dh400,000 blood money into the court treasury, even though they risk losing it forever if the families of the victims are never found - in which case the two men will be executed regardless.
If the families of the victims are found and issue a pardon, Dr Al Jarman said the death sentence would be dropped to a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Thirteen men - 12 Indians and a Pakistani - were involved in kidnapping and murdering Abu Baker Nujila and another victim, who was never identified, on January 1, 2009. Five of the gang, including Major and Amarjeet, raped the victims before burying them in shallow graves. They were all arrested on January 25, 2009, after the bodies were found by Jebel Ali Police.
Major, 26, was identified as the leader of the gang. He told arresting officers that the victims had persisted in selling alcohol in his area, and that his gang had wanted to "teach them a lesson they'd never forget". He said competition for bootlegging sales in the area left his gang no choice.
Amarjeet, 23, was described by prosecutors as Major's deputy.
"This was the strongest gang," an investigating officer said last year. "After their arrest we chased away all the alcohol bootleggers from the area."
This week, Dubai's highest court rejected appeals filed by Major and Amarjeet and upheld their death sentences.
Gursaran Kaur, the sister-in-law of Major, said they had worked hard to find the victims' families.
"We only know that the victims were from Kerala, but the families cannot be traced to speak about blood money," she said. "There was no address or identification documents to find out who they were. But we still have hope they will be identified."
She said the family was devastated after learning about the death sentence. "We are yet to break the news of the death sentence to Major's father. He would not be able to take it. He is already ill and always remembers his son," she said.
Amarjeet's father maintains his son's innocence. "I saw him in jail six months ago and he said, crying, he didn't do anything wrong," said Gurcharan Singh. "I have full faith in God my son will be released."
Mr Singh, a former soldier in the Indian army, said he stopped eating when he heard about his son's death sentence. "It is very difficult for a father to digest the news that his son is going to die. I am struggling to accept it.
"But the victim is unknown. We don't know how to find out the address of the family to pay them the blood money."
S P Singh Oberoi, a Dubai-based hotelier who has helped raise blood money in other bootlegging cases, says he will not be helping pay the blood money in this case. He is, however, willing to extend help to find the victims' families. "I have sent some people to the village to trace [Abu Baker Nujila's family], but we could not get any information about him," said Mr Oberoi. "Now, the families are planning to deposit the blood money to the supreme court so that someone might come forward to claim the amount."