A late wedding gift for newly-married couple Oniba and Shareeq landed them in a foreign prison. The couple from Mumbai, India travelled to Qatar on July 6, 2019. They were arrested at Hamad International Airport for carrying hashish. Despite denying drug trafficking allegations, the couple was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The Mumbai Police and the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) were able to establish that the relative who arranged the trip, Tabassum Riaz Quereshi, had duped the couple into carrying the drugs. Months after the couple's first child was born in a Qatari jail, the NCB is trying to secure their release.

When Oniba and Shareeq were offered a honeymoon holiday to Qatar by their aunt, they did not suspect her malicious intent. They left India last year and arrived at Hamad International Airport. Soon after they landed at the airport, they were taken into police custody. Authorities searched the couple's bags and found a package containing four kilograms of hashish.

The couple told the authorities that the relative who arranged for their holiday had given them the package. Tabassum had told them that the package contained tobacco that the couple had to give her friend in Doha. Due to strict drug laws in Qatar, the couple was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined Rs. 10m (£104k) even though they denied drug trafficking charges.

Oniba's father, Shakeel Ahmed Qureshi, wrote to the NCB urging the Indian authorities to help the couple. Her mother has written several letters to the Indian embassy for assistance. Shareeq's father spent six months in Doha and half of his life savings to hire a lawyer, The Times of India reported.

Since their arrest, Oniba gave birth to her daughter in prison this March. The child is being taken care of by a nurse inside the prison premises.

The Mumbai Police and NCB have been investigating the incident for over a year. The arrest of a man named Nizam Khan on drug-related charges led to the arrest of Tabassum. Interrogation of the man and one of his associates revealed that the couple's relative had intentionally misled the couple into carrying the drugs to Qatar.

Tabassum was arrested but she secured bail in September this year. According to Times Now News, she has been absconding since getting bail.

The NCB hopes to secure the release of the couple through diplomatic channels.

Hashish resin. (Reuters)
Couple imprisoned after relative duped them into carrying 4 kilograms of hashish to Qatar. (representational image)