M A I N   N E W S

Govt speaks for Sarabjit

New Delhi, March 17
Efforts to seek reprieve for Sarabjit Singh, who faces execution on April 1 in Pakistan, intensified today with India hoping that Pakistan will show “some leniency” as his sister made a desperate plea to the government to save her “innocent brother”.

The Punjab Assembly passed a resolution unanimously asking Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up Sarabjit’s issue with Islamabad.

Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur met Congress MP Rahul Gandhi with an appeal that he should take up the matter with the government. She claimed that Sarabjit was innocent and India would plead with Pakistan to review his decision.

She said Rahul Gandhi promised to take up the issue with Congress president Sonia Gandhi. She has sought a meeting with the Prime Minister.

Government’s difficulty in dealing with such cases were expressed by minister of state for external affairs Anand Sharma who said India had “limited options” and could only request the Pakistan government to consider the humanitarian aspects in Sarabjit’s case.

Meanwhile, the rejection of Sarabjit’s mercy petition also had its echo in the Rajya Sabha with Congress and Opposition BJP members demanding that the House pass a resolution against the move.

The BJP asked the government to talk to Islamabad “sternly” to save the “innocent” person from the gallows.

“When Haneef was arrested in Australia, the Prime Minister had said he was having ‘sleepless nights’. But when an innocent Indian (Sarabjit) is facing death in Pakistan, the Prime Minister is having sound sleep,” BJP vice-president Mukhtar Abass Naqvi said here.

Naqvi, who raised the Sarabjit issue in Rajya Sabha earlier, said “the entire nation is filled with sadness, worry and anxiety” following reports that the Indian national would be hanged on April 1.

The Congress hoped that Pakistan would take a “humanitarian” view of the case of Sarabjit. Party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said since Sarabjit’s was a case of mistaken identity, the Congress hopes and trusts that all aspects would be scrutinised and a humanitarian view taken.

Islamabad: A request for consular access to Sarabjit has been sent to the Pakistani authorities, Indian High Commission sources said.

It had been indicated to them that hanging him “might not be the best way to deal with the situation in the prevailing circumstances”, the sources said.

Officials from the Indian High Commission were last granted consular access to Sarabjit in 2005. — PTI



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