M A I N   N E W S

Kalam assures all help to Sarabjit, claim kin
Rashtrapati Bhavan clarifies
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 12
Family members of Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row in Pakistan for alleged spying, today met with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam to seek his intervention to save him from execution.

Sarbjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, who called on the President with her 16-year-old niece Poonam Kaur, claimed that Dr Kalam had given her a definite assurance that he would personally talk to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and the National Assembly there on behalf of the Indian Government for Sarabjit’s release.

The Rashtrapati Bhavan, however, clarified that the President had given no such assurance to Sarabjit’s family in the 20-minute meeting in the morning.

President’s Deputy Press Secretary Nitin Wakankar told The Tribune that Dr Kalam had actually told Dalbir Kaur and Poonam that he would discuss the matter with appropriate authorities in the Government of India.

“The President saw the memorandum, studied it and said he would discuss it with the Government of India. The President told Sarabjit’s family that the Indian Government had already taken up the matter at the highest level in the Pakistan Government,” Mr Wakankar said.

In an apparent communication gap, Dalbir Kaur claimed that the President had given her assurance that he would personally talk to Pervez Musharraf and National Assembly members to secure Sarabjit’s release.

“He said all possible efforts would be made for the safe release of Sarabjit. The President heard us patiently and sympathetically and said the Centre was taking steps to get Sarabjit back to India and that he would take personal initiative in talking to Pakistan Assembly members and President Musharraf in this regard,” she told The Tribune.

In a memorandum presented to the President, she said she made a request for being allowed to visit Pakistan to meet her brother for which she asked for a visa and a passport.

“The President asked me to write a separate request for a passport at the Rashtrapati Bhavan itself,” she said.

Besides, she said she also urged the President to ask Indian Embassy officials to meet Sarabjit, who has been languishing in a Pakistan jail for the past 16 years.

The family has been insisting that Sarabjit had accidentally strayed from his border village in Punjab into Pakistan 16 years ago.

She said they requested the President to intervene, as Sarabjit had been falsely framed and made a scapegoat in cases related to bomb blasts in Pakistan in 1990.

On whether Sarabjit had embraced Islam to further his clemency chances, Dalbir Kaur called it “a blatant lie and a dirty joke” to dampen the spirit of the Sikhs.

“'I have talked to his lawyer there and received a letter from Sarabjit, which denies all these rumours,” she said.

She said in the memorandum she asked for legal help from the government in her request to the President.

She said her announcement of committing suicide, if Sarabjit was sent to the gallows in Pakistan, stood suspended after the President’s assurance.

Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur could not accompany them to the meeting with the President, she said.


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