After more than 30 years of incarceration in Pakistan, Surjeet Singh returned home yesterday to a tumultuous and teary welcome from family and friends and promptly admitted that he had indeed been sent to spy for India.
Held in Pakistan on spying charges in the early 1980s, Surjeet (69), was released from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail early morning and made the road journey to Wagah, on the Pakistan side of the border, before entering his homeland.
“I was a RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) agent. No one bothered about me after I got arrested. Don’t ask me too much... I am very happy to return after 30 years and meet my family,” Surjeet said soon after stepping on Indian soil.
The crowds were so frenetic that Surjeet couldn’t even meet his wife Harbans Kaur. They were taken to Amritsar, where the family offered prayers at Harmandar Sahib, in separate vehicles.
Smiling and waving to family members, friends and supporters, a tired but beaming Surjeet thanked Pakistani border officials as he walked across the zero line at the international border.
‘Sarabjit is doing well’
“Indian prisoners are treated well in Pakistan jails. Sarabjit Singh is also doing well there. I met him recently though I couldn’t meet him today before leaving. He has sent no message with me. Leave it to me, I will get him released... Please don’t ask anything more,” Surjeet said, referring to Sarabjit Singh, also from Punjab who has been in Kot Lakhpat jail.
Downplaying the confusion over the release, he said, “In Urdu, the way they write Sarabjit and Surjeet is almost the same. This led to the confusion. Otherwise, everyone knew that the matter was regarding my release only.
“I will never return to Pakistan again,” Surjeet said in Punjabi, adding that he was arrested for spying charges and that if he returned again, the security agencies might suspect that he has come for spying. 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.