Thursday, August 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Hope for Indian on death row in Pak
267 Indians, including POWs in jails
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 20
An Indian prisoner sentenced to death in Pakistan under “mistaken identity” may get a new lease of life after recording a fresh statement at the efforts of Mr Sheetal Das Kaler, Secretary, South Asian Human Rights Group, Canada chapter.

Sarabjit Singh, who has been languishing in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore for the past 13 years, told Mr Kaler in the presence of Mr K. Abbas special branch officer in Pakistan, and a posse of other Pakistani policemen that he had been arrested in a drunken state from the Kasoron border outpost by the Pakistan Rangers. “Nothing was found on me. I was arrested, blindfolded and made to sign on blank papers by some Pakistani intelligence officers,” he said.

Mr Kaler, who had met Sarabjit Singh after obtaining special permission from the Pakistan Home Ministry, returned here from the joint checkpost at Wagah and said 267 Indian were languishing in Pakistani jails and these included prisoners of war (POWs).

He said Sarabjit had told him that he had been tried in a special court as having engineered four bomb blasts. He was referred to in the court as one Manjit Singh, son of Mehanga Singh. In 1990, he had pleaded that he was not Manjit, but the court had sentenced him to death. The Pakistan High Court upheld the death sentence.

Ms Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit, persistently tried to prove her brother’s identity. She told The Tribune that she had sent every document required for his identification to Pakistan, but to no avail. She recently sent him clothes, sweets and ‘rakhi’, which was tied to her brother’s wrist by one Sameeran, in jail.

Mr Kaler said he had also met three Indian teenagers — Avtar Singh, Balbir Singh and Jagminder Singh — in the Dera Sahib gurdwara. They had converted to Islam and now pleaded with him to get them released. His group had taken suo moto notice of the report on Sarabjit and collected about Rs 10 lakh to get him released.

Mr Kaler, who was here with two other activists of his group, said they had engaged a lawyer of the Supreme Court to fight the case of Sarabjit. The group has already given him Rs 1 lakh and all necessary identification papers, including the ration card obtained from his family.

Dalbir Kaur rued that the Indian embassy in Pakistan had never extended any help to get her brother released. She said it was sad that Sarabjit had to convert to Islam to avoid third-degree torture. According to Kaler, Sarabjit now offered namaz five times a day.

Meanwhile, an Indian prisoner, lodged in a Lahore jail in Pakistan for the past about a year, was today handed over to the BSF by Pakistani Rangers following his release from the jail.

According to sources, Mohammad Fahim, of Lucknow, was nabbed by Pakistani officials in Lahore about a year ago for want of valid documents for stay in that country. It was pleaded by Fahim that he had gone to Pakistan on valid documents with a jatha but had lost his documents in transit.

The man was handed over to the BSF this afternoon who had subsequently handed him over to the intelligence for interrogation. — UNI

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
123 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |