Chrisann Pereira: Mother relieved as drug charges dropped but says daughter is traumatised

The Indian citizen’s family await her return to Mumbai

Pereira with her father Mark and mother Premila in their Mumbai home. Photo: Pereira family
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The family of an Indian woman who was arrested in Sharjah for allegedly smuggling drugs into the UAE has shared their relief after charges were dropped this week.

Chrisann Pereira, 27, was detained for 25 days at Sharjah Central Jail before being released on bail, on the condition that her passport is kept by prosecutors until investigations are complete.

She is now waiting for the release of her passport by Sharjah authorities so she can return home to India.

It is the biggest relief that the case has ended
Premila Pereira, Chrisann's mother

“It has been a challenge but she has never given up,” her mother Premila Pereira told The National from Mumbai, where the family live.

“We are waiting for her to come back home to us.”

The Indian actress was arrested on April 1 at Sharjah Airport after 47.1g of cannabis, hemp resin, hemp extracts and poppy seeds were found concealed in a trophy she had carried into the country.

Pereira's family in India and her lawyer said she was duped into carrying the trophy by two men who posed as talent scouts and that she had no knowledge of the hidden drugs.

The men said they had booked her for an audition for a Hollywood series being filmed in Dubai.

When the actress learnt there was no one to meet her at Sharjah Airport and no hotel booking, she told police at the airport about the trophy.

Her family also filed a complaint with Mumbai Police and the men were arrested in Mumbai.

Family relieved

Ms Pereira was granted bail on April 27 and the criminal case against her was dropped on Tuesday.

“Although she got bail and is out of jail, she is still traumatised,” her mother said.

“At the time there was always a question as we didn't know what was going to happen next, or when she was going to be back. There was no timeline,” she said.

“Last week she was really sobbing as she wanted to come home. It is the biggest relief that the case has ended,” Ms Pereira said.

“My daughter is now happy, and is doing yoga, exercising and getting stronger.

“She keeps saying, ‘I don’t want to be known for this, I don’t want to be connected to a drug case',” said her mother, who has visited the UAE twice to be with her daughter.

“She has seen a psychiatrist and has taken medication to help her through this,” she said.

“All I did was hug her and love her. I didn’t speak about the jail. I just told her that she has told the truth and it will work out in the end.”

Church volunteers pitch in

During the first week when Chrisann was in jail, her family in India was unable to reach her.

Church volunteers in Sharjah helped arrange a phone card so that she could talk to her parents in Mumbai.

Her mother had never travelled overseas – the UAE trip to begin her daughter’s legal challenge was her first out of India.

Relatives in Dubai took Chrisann home when she was released on bail.

“The church, and the people of Dubai and Sharjah were the biggest help,” her mother said. “I can't express my gratitude enough.”

Ms Pereira said that church volunteers went to the jail and gave her daughter a calling card.

“My husband's family has cousins in Dubai,” her mother said. “Although Chrisann has never met them, they picked her up from jail. It was as if she has another home and family in Dubai. They have supported us mentally.”

She added that the family were also grateful to Sharjah authorities, their Emirati lawyer and consular officials.

“The Sharjah government has been very systematic in their investigation. Pure justice was given to my daughter,” the senior Ms Pereira said, adding that the travel ban has now been lifted.

“The prosecutor brought in a translator when he met me.

“They took the trouble even during Ramadan and my daughter has been proved innocent.”

Mumbai investigation

While Chrisann’s mother was in the UAE, her father Mark and brother Kevin approached police authorities in Mumbai to say she was innocent and that she had been tricked.

Mumbai Police said initial investigations indicated that the two men arrested had used similar methods to deceive at least four others into smuggling drugs into the UAE.

“Just before she took the flight, she was given a golden-coloured trophy that she was asked to carry as a memento,” Mumbai Police said in a statement.

The family now eagerly awaits Chrisann's return to Mumbai.

“The psychiatrist has said she needs rest and sleep,” her mother said.

“Until she gets home, none of us can rest.”

Updated: June 16, 2023, 2:15 PM