Kashmir Singh will go home Tuesday: minister

March 3rd, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 3 (IANS) Kashmir Singh, an Indian who has languished in a Pakistani prison for 35 years on espionage charges, 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.

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 practicing Muslim for many years and says his prayers five times a day, the official added.

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 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.

Kashmir Singh was traced by Ansar Burney during his visit to the Central Jail in Lahore. The minister sent a mercy petition that was accepted by President Pervez Musharraf, who pardoned Kashmir Singh and allowed him to return home.

Burney has also moved forward to the president a summary for the creation of a National Commission for Human Rights in Pakistan - an organisation that would search for missing prisoners, work for prisoners rights and prison reforms.

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