Burney pleads for Indian prisoners, despite immigration flap

June 10th, 2008 - 5:59 pm ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 10 (IANS) Human rights activist and former minister Ansar Burney has asked Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani to convert all death sentences to life imprisonment, including that of two Indian nationals. Burney wrote to Gillani and Chief Justice Abdul Hameed Dogar, demanding that all death sentences, including that of two Indians Karpal Singh and Sarabjit Singh, be changed to life imprisonment.

In his letter sent from here Monday evening, Burney also demanded that all prisoners, including Indians, be released once they had served their sentences.

Burney, who had not been allowed to enter India May 30 because his name figured on an outdated lookout notice list on Delhi airport’s immigration department computers, had said at that time the bitter experience would not stop him fighting for the cause of Indian prisoners.

In March this year, Burney had been instrumental in the release of another Indian, Kashmir Singh, who had spent 36 years in Pakistani jails after being convicted of spying charges.

Among the prisoners he listed in his letter as still languishing in jail after completing their sentences there were three Indian women. One was identified as Teena Peka, 38, wife of Rajesh, resident of Mumbai, who was sentenced to a year’s imprisonment and a fine of Pakistani Rs.1,000 in 1996 but is still in jail.

A second Indian woman, Naqaya, 38, daughter of Dharam, was sentenced to four months in jail in 2007, but is still awaiting release. So is an unidentified woman described as being “mentally ill” in the letter. She has also been awaiting release since last year.

Other Indians listed in Burney’s letter as languishing in Pakistani jails after completing their sentences include:

Ram Parkash, son of Dewan Chand, sentenced to 10 years in jail in 1997;

Saju Ram, 20, son of Jatan Ram, sentenced to four months in jail in 2007;

Ganesh Pandi, 29, son of Kana Pandi, sentenced to two months in jail in 2007;

Gomagh Singh, son of Mehar Chand, sentenced to four months in jail in 2006;

Din Mohammad, son of Mir Mohammad, sentenced to three months in jail in June 2007;

Shabuddin Mir, 63, son of Sarajuddin Mir, sentenced in 1991 for illegal entry;

Ilyas, son of Badlu, sentenced to two years in jail in 2003;

Bola, son of Diala, waiting to be released since 2007;

Gopal Das, 49, son of Behari Lal, sentenced to 25 years in jail in 1986;

Mohammad Muslimuddin, son of Abdul Aziz, sentenced to six months in jail in 1998;

Ramu Ram, son of Shamay Ram, sentenced to one year in jail in 1999;

Qasim, son of Mohammad, 75, perhaps a prisoner of war;

Mohammad Amin, 66, son of Haji Ali Mohammad, perhaps a prisoner of war too;

Khursheed Ahmad, son of Abdul Ahad, sentenced to one year in jail in 2002; and

Arif Hadayat, son of Saleem Hadayat, sentenced to 45 days in jail in 2006.

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