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SOCIETY - INDIANS IN PAKISTANI JAILS

 

Sarabjit Singh waits for freedom

BY A CORRESPONDENT

31 August 2005: Sarabjit Singh, the Indian sentenced to death in Pakistan had two visitors yesterday, both from the India High Commission. The consular officials spoke to Sarabjit Singh for a while, where he explained the situation under which he found himself in Pakistan, was arrested, tried and sentenced to death.

Sarabjit Singh is called Manjit Singh in Pakistan. He was arrested by the Pakistan army in 1990. Sarabjit was accused as an Indian spy and was charged with plotting the 1989 bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan. He was tried by several successive courts, and was awarded death penalty. Sarabjit Singh’s trial in Pakistan has been based on a confessional statement which the Pakistani authorities claim he gave during the course of the investigation. However, Sarabjit said during the trial in court that he was a farmer on the Indian side of the border and strayed into Pakistan while he was drunk.

However, rejecting Sarabjit Singh's lawyer's arguments, the Pakistan Supreme Court upheld the death penalty awarded to him. Now, the fate of Sarabjit Singh lies in the hands of Pakistan president Pervez Musharraf, who alone has the authority to pardon him.

Meanwhile, on the Indian side, Sarabjit's wife and children have threatened to commit suicide if Sarabjit Singh was hanged in Pakistan. They insist that Sarabjit Singh is an innocent farmer and has no connection whatsoever with the Indian intelligence agencies. The helpless family has been running from pillar to post, to bring him back to India, but to no avail.

However, Sarabjit Singh was granted consular access recently, following which the Indian High commission officials met him in a high security prison near Lahore. An Indian official told the media that Sarabjit Singh has conveyed a message to his family, but declined to spell out what it was.

Student and neighbors from Sarabjit Singh's village in India have also pleaded with the Pakistani authorities in candle-light marches to free the condemned prisoner. So far, neither Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh nor Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has spoken in public about the fate of the prisoner.

However, on 30th August 2005, India and Pakistan agreed to release some civilian prisoners from across the border, who have unknowingly strayed across. This agreement does not include Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row.

BY A CORRESPONDENT

 

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