Kashmir Singh alias Ibrahim will be home TuesdayMarch 3rd, 2008 - 4:03 pm ICT by admin
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 3 (IANS) Kashmir Singh, an Indian who has languished in a Pakistani prison for 35 years on espionage charges and is known to jail inmates as Ibrahim, will be released Monday evening from Lahore’s Central Jail and is expected to leave for India Tuesday. “The Indian high commission is preparing his documents that are expected to be delivered Tuesday morning to Kashmir Singh,” caretaker Minister for Human Rights Ansar Burney said.
“Satyabrata Pal (the Indian high commissioner to Pakistan) has assured me that Singh’s travel documents will be issued today and he may return to his family and home Tuesday,” Burney told IANS over the telephone from Lahore.
He said Kashmir Singh would be walking into India from the Wagah border at around 11 a.m. Tuesday. The minister would be accompanying the Indian who spent 35 years in different Pakistani jails, including Mianwali, Sahiwal, Multan and Bahawalpur.
Kashmir Singh reached Lahore jail only four months ago and was luckily spotted by the minister who got his mercy appeal signed by President Pervez Musharraf.
To his jail inmates, Kashmir Singh is Ibrahim. After six months of detention, he adopted Islam and has learnt many Quranic verses, said a jail official.
He has been a practising Muslim for many years and says his prayers five times a day, the official added.
His very appearance has changed. When he was arrested, he had a black beard and a Sikh turban. Now, he sports a trimmed beard and a traditional Muslim cap.
According to the official, Kashmir Singh said: “I am confident that my family - wife, children and brothers and a sister - will accept me, I love them all, you can’t imagine how happy I am.
“One day I was reading about Prophet Ibrahim in Quran and was impressed by his teachings and asked my fellows in jail to call me by this name.”
According to Syed Fahad Burney of the Ansar Burney Trust, who will be given Kashmir Singh’s custody, many friends and well-wishers have started gathering at Wagah to welcome the man who was arrested in Rawalpindi in 1973.
Kashmir Singh was accused of being a spy and thereafter sentenced to death. He remained on death row in deplorable conditions until Ansar Burney, also a human rights activist, helped him locate his family and secured his release.
Kashmir Singh’s release is being seen as a significant step in improving India-Pakistan relations and building trust between the two neighbours.
According to Syed Fahad Burney, there is a lot of support for Kashmir Singh in Pakistan. The trust has received many appreciative letters from Pakistani and Indian nationals across the world.
The Ansar Burney Trust, one of Pakistan’s most prominent rights groups, said it was working for the release of other Indians in Pakistani prisons, particularly Indian fisherman. It was also searching for Indian prisoners of war in Pakistani prisons.
Burney has also asked the president to create a national commission for human rights - an organisation that would search for missing prisoners, work for prisoners’ rights and prison reforms.
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