Couple acquitted from drug trafficking charges to reach Mumbai

In 2019, the Qatar authorities arrested an Indian Couple for alleged drug trafficking. The couple had to serve a 10-year-long jail sentence for illegal drug trafficking.

Mohammad Shareeq and his wife Oniba Qureshi. Source- Indian Express

The NCB soon launched a probe into the matter. The NCB and the Indian Embassy of Qatar managed to get the couple acquitted. Around January, the highest court of Qatar overturned the case against the couple. The couple is all set to return back to India during the early hours of Thursday.

Timeline of the arrest of the couple on charges of drug trafficking

On July 6, 2019, Mohammad Shareeq and his wife, Oniba Kauser Shakeel Ahmed flew to Qatar for their honeymoon. They landed at Hamad International Airport. The Qatar authorities arrested the couple after they found 4.1 Kg of Hashish in their possession. The authorities also fined the couple a sum of INR 1 crore.

After the arrest of the couple, Oniba's father, Shakeel Ahmed wrote to the NCB for help. Director-General, Rakesh Asthana received the letter on 27th September 2019. As per Asthana, Oniba's father said, " the couple was deceived in the garb of a honeymoon package. A woman named Tabassum Riyaz Qureshi and her associate Nizam Kara are responsible. As per the NCB probe, the infamous drug-running network, Kasargod Syndicate, trapped them."

The NCB approached the Qatar authorities through diplomatic channels.

Investigation revealed that Shareeq's aunt, Tabassum used them to transport the drugs. Oniba and Shareeq were 'forced to go on a second honeymoon and their aunt sponsored them.

Shareeq used to work for a Japanese Company and Oniba just found out that she was pregnant. She gave birth to her daughter, Aayat, in the Middle-East jail in February 2020.

Release of Shareeq and Oniba

The couple's families rescued Shareeq's phone. It had several recorded pieces of conversation with Tabassum. In these recordings, Tabassum was talking about a package containing gutkha. When the Mumbai Police got hold of this information, Tabassum was arrested.

Shareeq's father stayed in Qatar for 15 months. He hired a lawyer for the couple. The appeal court rejected the couple's plea and confirmed the verdict of the trial court. In January 2021, the Court of Cassation found the couple innocent based on the evidence. They were not aware that the seized materials were narcotics.

One official from the Indian Embassy of Qatar said that the couple will soon return to India. The families are thankful to SRH Fahimi, the first secretary at the Embassy and the NCB for their tireless efforts.

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