Pakistan issues release orders for Indian prisoner

March 1st, 2008 - 10:44 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 1 (IANS) The Pakistan government Saturday issued release orders for Kashmir Singh, an Indian prisoner languishing in Pakistani jails for about 35 years for alleged espionage. He is expected to be set free Monday. “I’ve received his release order and am going to Lahore. I am confident that he will be released Monday morning,” Ansar Burney, the caretaker minister for human rights who also heads the Ansar Burney Welfare Trust, told IANS.

President Pervez Musharraf had Thursday granted mercy to Singh.

Sunday being a holiday, Singh would be released Monday.

“I wish to take him to (the Wagah) border (check post) the same day but it may not be possible without the travel documents,” Burney said.

According to information available with the authorities at Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore where he is currently lodged, Singh was arrested in close to the international border and charged with spying. He was arrested by the police June 19, 1974 and had no documents with him and this “made him suspect of spying”, a jail official told IANS.

However, another jail official on condition of anonymity said Singh had told Pakistani officials that he was involved in illegal transportation between the two countries of commodities like clothes, betel leaves and other commodities that fetched him profit after crossing the border from either side.

He was a traffic cop with the Amritsar police but was suspended in early 1974 after an accident. “After the suspension he joined a group that used to smuggle goods across the border… he was no more than a carrier of commodities between the two countries,” said the official.

During his 35 years in detention, he was lodged in Kot Lakhpat jail from where he was shifted to Mianwali, then to Bahawalpur and again back to Lahore in the first three years. Later he spent 10 years in Multan jail, 14 in Sahiwal jail and was once again sent to Lahore.

“I thought that my dead body would be transported to India. But I am happy and Ansar Burney has turned to be an angel for me,” the official quoted Singh who spends most of his time studying religion and praying.

The official said a couple of months back he stopped talking to anyone and started spending most of the time in isolation.

“He is very happy since Burney spotted him and assured him that he would be released and would be able to meet his children, wife and other relatives.”

Singh had filed a mercy petition in the mid-1980s with the presidency but it was never taken up.

Singh’s wife Paranjeet Kaur along with their daughter and two sons are eagerly awaiting his return to Nangal Choran village of Punjab.

“He hasn’t received any information for long from his relatives,” the jail official said.

The official said that Singh was very happy about his impending release and was counting every minute to meet his relatives.

“It’s difficult for me to spend a minute… I want to meet my wife, my children and my brothers, I wish my sister was alive,” the official quoted Singh as saying.

Burney said he himself would be crossing into Indian territory to hand him over to his relatives.

The minister said Singh after release would be a guest of the Ansar Burney Trust, which would pay for his entire medical, travel and other expenses.

Burney, who reluctantly accepted the offer to be minister in the caretaker set-up after the previous government completed its tenure in November last year, said: “I think I accepted the offer (to become minister) to meet Kashmir Singh and get him released”.

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