Sarabjit’s family gets visa, to travel to Pakistan Sunday

April 17th, 2008 - 12:49 am ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

New Delhi/Amritsar, April 16 (IANS) The family of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner on death row in Pakistan, will finally get to see him after nearly 18 years when they meet him in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail next week. They plan to appeal to the Pakistani people and President Pervez Musharraf for mercy. The Pakistan high commission Wednesday handed over the passports with the stamped visas to Sarabjit’s sister, Dalbir Kaur. The visas are for Dalbir, her husband, Baldev Singh, Sarabjit’s wife, Sukhpreet Kaur and two daughters, Swapandeep and Poonam. The visa applications had been submitted in the last week of March.

Dalbir Kaur said the family would leave for Pakistan Sunday by road. “I am so happy that I can’t express it. I have hope that he will be pardoned now,” she said.

An ebullient Dalbir told IANS in New Delhi, “The Pakistani people are like my kith and kin. So, if I go to my brothers and sisters and put my plea to them, I am sure they will listen,” she said. The family members want to meet President Musharraf and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani to present their petition for mercy.

Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur said in Amritsar that they will carry sweets for him.

“He was very fond of kheer (sweet milk and rice) and petha. We will carry it for him,” she said.

She claimed that Sarabjit had inadvertently crossed into Pakistan in August 1990 and was arrested. He was later blamed for causing two bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that led to the death of 14 people. He was sentenced to death by a court in Pakistan and later his death sentence was upheld by the Pakistan Supreme Court last year.

Describing her reaction when she heard of the visas, Dalbir said: “I was sitting in Sisganj Gurudwara in the manager’s office when I got a phone call from the Pakistan high commission to come and collect the passports. I asked, ‘Have I got a visa?’ He said yes. I started to tremble,” Dalbir Kaur told IANS.

The visas have to be availed within one month and are valid for a stay of seven days, with permission to travel only to Lahore and Nankana Sahib, she said.

Dalbir plans to offer thanks at the shrine of saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti in Ajmer for getting the visas. “I want to express my gratitude to god for getting the visa and pray for my brother’s safe return. Next, I will get the required permission to travel by road from the ministry of external affairs. I had already spoken to some senior officials there, who assured me of all support,” she said.

Sarabjit, who is known as Manjit Singh in Pakistan, is to be executed April 30. He was to be hanged April 1 but a plea of clemency from the Indian government led to the execution being postponed by a month.

Sarabjit’s family claim he is innocent and had crossed into Pakistan inadvertently in an inebriated state Aug 28, 1990.

His family’s hopes to get him back to India had risen after an Indian prisoner, Kashmir Singh, was released from a Pakistan jail after 35 years on March 4 due to the efforts of the then Pakistani minister for human rights, Ansar Burney.

Last week, Burney travelled to India to meet with the family members to “check their story”. He had then promised to fight Sarabjit’s case in Pakistan in “light of new evidence”.

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