Sarabjit’s family meet him in jail, urge release

April 24th, 2008 - 7:53 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf
By Muhammad Najeeb
Lahore, April 24 (IANS) The wife, daughters and sister of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner on the death row in Pakistan, met him in the city’s Kot Lakhpat Jail Thursday and called for his release. Meanwhile, family members of the victims killed in bombings allegedly engineered by Singh demanded that he be hanged. Sarabjit’s family members said he is innocent and had accidentally strayed into Pakistan. They demanded his immediate release and repatriation to India.

However, a group of family members of the victims killed in the blasts chanted slogans outside the jail and demanded that the authorities implement the death sentence given to Sarabjit by the court.

“Can anyone bring back my father who was killed when I was just three,” said Zeeshan, who lost his father in one of the five blasts blamed on the Indian.

Rauf, the son of another bombing victim, said: “Neither the political leadership nor the president of Pakistan have the right to grant mercy to Sarabjit Singh. He must be hanged in Pakistan because a merciless terrorist does not know the meaning of family, religion, or country.”

Reacting, Dalbir Kaur, Sarabjit’s sister, told media person: “This, I believe, is a case of misidentification. My brother cannot do this… he is innocent and strayed into Pakistan accidentally.” Dalbir Kaur arrived in Pakistan Wednesday with four other family members, including her husband Baldev, Singh’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur, and daughters Swapandeep and Poonam.

The Pakistan government claims Sarabjit is Manjit Singh, who carried out the attacks in 1990. He was awarded death in five bomb blasts he had reportedly carried out in various cities of Pakistan.

Later, a two-member bench of the Supreme Court dismissed mercy appeals filed by the convict Manjit Singh, and upheld the death sentence.

Sarabjit’s brother-in-law, Baldev, maintains he is innocent and had been wrongly convicted for the bomb attacks in 1990 in which 14 people were killed.

Poonam, who was only 23-days-old when her father crossed the border, said: “We urge everyone to help us free our father. We have come to appeal to President Pervez Musharraf to help us by freeing our father as he is innocent. We believe that he will certainly help.”

Swapandeep, who was two-and-half-years old when her father strayed into Pakistan, said: “We have come with the hope that the improved relations between India and Pakistan will have an impact on my father’s case and he will be released soon.” She said she was both happy and sad on being allowed to travel to Pakistan to meet her father.

An elderly woman, Safia Bibi, said the terrorist involved in the bomb explosions had caused her family immeasurable grief and loss and must be hanged at the very spot where her only son, Sohail, had been severely injured and became crippled.

Sukhpreet, Sarabjit’s wife, told newspersons at Wagah that her husband was not Manjit Singh. She said he was Sarabjit Singh, an ordinary farmer who mistakenly crossed the border while he was drunk. He could never do the things for which cases have been filed against him.

“I can feel the pain of people who lost their relatives in the blasts and I understand their anger… but believe me, my husband cannot do such a cruel act,” she said when told of the protests by the relatives of bombing victims.

Sarabjit’s family is carrying letters written by various persons to President Pervez Musharraf seeking clemency for Sarabjit as well as letters written to Sarabjit by his friends. Sarabjit’s kin have also sought permission to meet President Musharraf and other Pakistani leaders to take up his case. It is not known if such meetings will take place as their visas do not allow them to travel to Islamabad.

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