Kashmir Singh’s family camping at border for his welcome

March 4th, 2008 - 10:28 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

Attari Border (Punjab), March 4 (IANS) Thirty-five years after he was arrested on espionage charges in Pakistan, former army man Kashmir Singh will walk back to his homeland a free man Tuesday. His family has been camping at this joint border check-post between India and Pakistan for the last three days, eagerly awaiting his return. Although they are not sure how they will react to their highly charged and emotional re-union with him after 35 years, members of Singh’s family have been looking forward to seeing him walk back through the iron gates on the Radcliffe line here.

Singh’s arrival here - expected to be around 11 a.m. - is being looked forward to most eagerly by his aging wife Paramjit Kaur, 65. She and her physically challenged son Shishpal along with a few other relatives and villagers have been coming to this border post everyday since the last three days after they got the information that Singh was being released.

“I have been through bad times in bringing up my three children single-handedly. But I am looking forward to a new dawn,” Paramjit said as she and her son headed back to the border gates here from Amritsar city, 30 km away.

Singh belongs to Nangal Choran village, 20 km from Hoshiarpur town in Punjab.

After his arrival, he is likely to be de-briefed by security agencies here and medically checked.

Singh was officially released from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail Monday evening and was expected to pay his obeisance at Sikh shrine Nankana Sahib in Pakistan - the birth place of first Sikh guru, Nanak Dev - before heading back home.

His released was facilitated by the pardon granted to him by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf after a mercy petition moved by him and pursued by the present caretaker human rights minister in Pakistan, Ansar Burney.

The minister had described Singh’s living conditions inside Pakistan’s prison as “hell on earth”.

Singh’s case is the first and perhaps a historic one where a person accused of spying and sentenced to death in Pakistan is actually coming back to India.

He was arrested in Rawalpindi in 1973 and sentenced to death by an army court on charges of spying. However, he was never hanged and later his sentence was changed to life imprisonment. However, he continued to be in Pakistani jails for much longer.

His release has rekindled hopes for families of other persons from Punjab who are languishing in Pakistani jails on charges of spying. Their families - especially that of Sarabjit Singh, another death row prisoner there - are hoping that they will also return in the present atmosphere on bonhomie between both countries.

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