M A I N   N E W S

Hanging of Sarabjit put off by a month
Tribune News Service & PTI

New Delhi, March 19
Sarabjit Singh, on death row in Pakistan for his alleged involvement in bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan in 1990, today got a reprieve with his hanging being put off till April 30 by President Pervez Musharraf following India’s appeal for clemency on humanitarian grounds.

Information about Sarabjit’s reprieve was given by the external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha today.

“The government of India is continuing its efforts to save the life of Sarabjit Singh. We have achieved partial success and we will continue to carry on our efforts,” Mukherjee said.

The minister said President Pervez Musharraf had stayed the execution of Sarabjit Singh till April 30, according to information given to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad by the Pakistan Foreign Office.

A fortnight back, Musharraf had sealed Sarabjit’s fate by rejecting his mercy petition.

Sarabjit Singh was to be hanged on April 1. His death warrant was received by the authorities in the high security Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, where he had been languishing for 17 years.

In a suo motu statement in both Houses of Parliament yesterday, Mukherjee had said the government had asked Pakistan to treat Sarabjit Singh’s case with clemency on humanitarian grounds.

Lok Sabha MPs belonging to the Left parties, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Samajwadi Party and the BJP urged the government to ensure that an innocent man was not hanged.

A somewhat relieved daughter Swapandeep hoped her “innocent” father would be set free and he would be reunited with his family soon. “We are happy...I am hopeful that my papa will be released by Pakistan and he comes back soon”.

Swapandeep said, “As soon as we heard this news, we became happy. But we will be happy in a true sense when my Papa will return home.”

“I am hopeful that in the way they have delayed the execution, our father will get clemency and he will return to us soon,” she said, adding that “now, we have become more confident that our father will be sent to us soon by the Pakistan government”.

“We got this one month in which we will prove to President Musharraf that my father is innocent.”

While seeking clemency from Pakistan for Sarabjit, India had said the impression that he was being executed in retaliation for the death of a Pakistani in Indian custody would “impinge on the positive atmosphere” between the two countries.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Tuesday said his government had taken up the matter with Pakistan at the highest level.

Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur yesterday sent a written appeal for clemency directly to Musharraf and requested him for permission to visit Pakistan to meet her brother in jail.

The mercy petition of Sarabjit, who Pakistan claims is Manjit Singh, was rejected by Musharraf on March 3. Sarabjit's mercy petition was sent to Musharraf along with that of Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh, who was pardoned and freed after spending 35 years on death row in Pakistani jails. Pakistan's Supreme Court too rejected Sarabjit's plea for clemency in March 2006.



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