L A T E S T      N E W S

Surjeet freed from Pak jail, but reaches Wagah in handcuffs

WAGAH: He may have been officially released from jail on Thursday morning but when Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh alighted from the prison van at the Wagah border on the Pakistan side, he was handcuffed and the iron chain was attached to the belt of a Pakistani police officer.

Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama and black turban and carrying two bags, Surjeet, 69, slowly alighted from the prison van with his left hand in handcuffs. The accompanying policemen got down with him but did not open the handcuffs.

He had been released from the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore and reached Wagah about an hour later.

With a smile on his face, Surjeet, who had been in captivity for over 30 years, hugged his Pakistani lawyer who was waiting for him here before being taken away for completion of formalities to enable him to cross into India.

"I will never return to Pakistan again," Surjeet, who has a grey flowing beard, told reporters in Punjabi with his head and finger indicating a firm "no" gesture.

"I was arrested earlier for spying charges. If I return again, the security agencies might suspect that I have come for spying again," he said.

Surjeet said prisoners on both sides of the border should be released by the respective governments.

"I was treated well by prison officials and I am thankful to them," he said.

Surjeet, who spent over 30 years in Pakistani jails after being arrested on charges of spying, walked out of jail to a battery of camera crews waiting to interview him.

He said he was looking forward to meeting his family waiting excitedly across the border in Attari in the Indian Punjab to welcome him home.

He had completed his life term in 2005.

His family had given up hope of seeing him again, presuming him to be dead after he went missing near the international border in the Ferozepur sector of Punjab in 1982. The return of an Indian prisoner in 2005 rekindled their hopes after the family received a letter from Surjeet. IANS




Prez poll: Pranab files nomination papers

New Delhi: UPA presidential nominee Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday filed his nomination papers in Parliament. The veteran Congress leader filed nomination papers in the presence of the top brass of the UPA, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and alliance chairperson and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

Tribal leader and former Lok Sabha Speaker P.A. Sangma is also scheduled to file nomination today in the presidential race between UPA and the BJP-backed opposition candidate in which the ruling alliance is set for a runaway victory.

Unfazed by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee's revolt, UPA utilized the opportunity to project a united picture and its penetration into NDA.

Barring Trinamool Congress, leaders of all UPA constituents were present on the occasion, including Sharad Pawar (NCP), TR Baalu (DMK), Farooq Abdullah (NC) and E Ahmed (IUML), in a move to project a united face of the ruling alliance.



Spain beat Portugal to reach Euro final

Donetsk: With its shootout victory over Portugal in the Euro Cup 2012, Spain has put itself on the verge of making history. Spain now awaits the winner of the Germany-Italy match to determine which opponent will stand in their way of being the first ever national side to win three straight major tournaments.

Spain defeated Germany 1-0 in the Euro Cup 2008 and then defeated the Netherlands 1-0 in the 2010 World Cup.

The victory against their Iberian rivals was likely the most anticipated match in the tournament. The last time these teams faced off in a tournament match, Spain won 1-0 at the 2010 World Cup en route to winning the championship. In a friendly a few months later, Portugal destroyed Spain 4-0. Coming into the match, Portugal was clearly playing a better brand of soccer than Spain was and many believed Portugal would pull through. The Portuguese had started off poorly in their opening two matches, but spurred by an ever dynamic Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal looked dominant in the last two games against the Dutch and the Czechs.

Spain meanwhile struggled in a draw with Italy and barely beat the Croatians in the group stage before putting together a solid game against France.

Portugal was expected to pressure Spain's passing game into mistakes. As the match progressed for 90 minutes, that is exactly what they did. Spain's passing looked sloppy throughout and barely generated many key opportunities. Spanish Coach Vicente del Bosque inserted surprise starter Alvaro Negredo to provide trouble for the Portuguese defense with his size. However, Negredo was extremely disappointing and found himself back on the bench shortly after the start of the second half.

In the second half, the additions of Cesc Fabregas (in for Negredo) and Jesus Navas (in for a struggling David Silva) enlivened the Spanish offense which started to find its flow. However, Portugal continued having the best opportunities of regulation. Ronaldo had a flurry of free kicks that went over the net and in the final minute got a perfect pass from Meireles and ran up the left wing. The ensuing shot sailed over the net.




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