An Indian jewellery tycoon Firoz Merchant, founder and chairman of retailer Pure Gold Group has paid INR 20 Crores to clear the debt of 700 prisoners in the UAE and pay for their passage home.
Merchant said the gesture was intended to mark the 48th UAE National Day and the Year of Tolerance.
Merchant’s offer of INR 20 Crores is part of a programme he founded in 2008 called the “Forgotten Society”. The drive aims to give detainees in debt a second chance, allowing them to be freed and return to their home countries.
Mr Merchant works with officials to identify the most pressing cases of inmates who have completed their sentences but cannot be released until their debt is paid. “The UAE is home to people of various cultures and religions, and the country has given hope and second chances to many,” said Mr Merchant.
“This is the Year of Tolerance, so we are extending our support so that they can be reunited with their loved ones. “The broke prisoners being released are from different nationalities, regardless of their religion.”
On this occasion, the inmates being released are from more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia and Thailand.
About 150 prisoners are from the Ajman jail and 160 from Fujairah. The remaining prisoners will be released from prisons in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Ras Al Khaimah and Umm Al Quwain.
Mr Merchant, a self-made millionaire, has lived in the UAE since 1989 and was granted permanent residency earlier this year. He was one of the select group of investors, entrepreneurs and researchers presented with a Golden Card to honour their contribution to the nation.
Major General Sheikh Sultan bin Abdullah Al Nuaimi, commander-in-chief of Ajman Police, said the money given by Mr Merchant demonstrated a strong sense of social responsibility. “The support Pure Gold Group has given [inmates] enhances the spirit of solidarity and cohesion and helps them integrate back into society to build a new and dignified life,” he said
Via: The National