Relatives of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian from Bhikiwind town near Amritsar who is on a death row in Pakistan, on Thursday sought the intervention of Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan for his release.
Buoyed after the release of Kashmir Singh, who was released on Wednesday after 35 years in Pakistani jails, the family of Sarabjit hoped he too would be let off soon, but it reduced to tears again after reports from Pakistan said that Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had rejected his mercy petition.
“This is shocking. Our hopes of getting him back had increased after Kashmir Singh’s release but now we are disappointed. The Indian government should intervene. My brother Sarabjit is completely innocent and crossed in Pakistan inadvertently,” Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur said in Amritsar.
She said that she was trying to get in touch with Shah Rukh Khan as he had shown interest recently in the campaign to get Sarabjit released.
“We are trying to get his address and number to contact him. His popularity in the sub-continent may help secure Sarabjit’s release. We have high hopes from him,” said Sarabjit’s daughter Swapandeep.
Kaur, who has been running a campaign for the last few years to get Sarabjit released, is heading for Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other top leaders to seek their intervention to get Sarabjit released.
The family has been camping in Amritsar since Wednesday when Kashmir Singh was released at the Attari-Wagah border, 30 kms from here.
Sarabjit, who is known as Manjit Singh in Pakistan, is said to have inadvertently crossed into Pakistan 17 years ago. He was arrested there and labelled as an Indian spy. Later, he was charged of bombings and terrorist activities in that country and sentenced to death.
Pakistani officials announced on Sunday. Pakistan’s Supreme Court had rejected his appeal for clemency and President Musharraf also rejected his mercy petition this month.
Singh’s lawyer Abdul Hameed Rana said that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf could still pardon his client, “but India also needs to reciprocate the move and release all such Pakistani prisoners.”Sarabjit Singh has been in jail in Pakistan since 1990. “His death warrants have been issued and we have received them. He will be executed /hangedon April 1,” deputy chief of Lahore’s high-security Kot Lakhpat prison Shabbar Khan said.
Singh’s lawyer Abdul Hameed Rana said that Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf could still pardon his client, “but India also needs to reciprocate the move and release all such Pakistani prisoners.”
Sarabjit is being seen as the first victim of the Kashmir Singh revelation that he was indeed a spy. At the time of Kashmir’s release earlier this month, Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney had appealed to Musharraf to release Kashmir as no charges had been proved against him and he had been in jail for nearly 35 years. On the basis of this plea, he was pardoned and set free to return to India.
However, the public disclosure by Kashmir Singh that he was indeed an Indian spy sealed the fate of those Indians wishing to be freed under the same plea, say observers.