The family members of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who was convicted and sentenced to death on charges of terrorism in Pakistan, yesterday said they were happy to receive the news that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment.
Talking to media persons here after receiving the news, a visibly-elated Dalbir Kaur, the elder sister of Sarabjit Singh, said the news she was getting from Pakistan was that Sarabjit could be freed from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail as early as Wednesday.
“I have been told that Zardari had not only commuted his death sentence but also ordered his release from jail. He can be freed from jail tomorrow itself,” said Dalbir Kaur, who led a crusade to save her brother and bring him back to India for the last 22 years.
“I don’t know how to react to this when this good news has finally come. We are all very happy. We are feeling very good. Truth has finally triumphed,” Kaur said. “The daughters will get their father. I wanted this to happen while I was alive. We have fought for 22 years to achieve this,” she said.
“I have no words to thank President Zardari. I wish him the best for this historic decision. He has given a message of peace and love to the entire world with this decision. ‘Thank you’ is too small a word to say to him for this. I want to thank him from the core of my heart,” Kaur said.
Sarabjit’s daughter Swapandeep told media persons that the family would offer prayers at various shrines where they had sought his release. “Once he returns, we will offer prayers; there will be a big celebration and a party. We have no words to describe our happiness,” she said.
The family recently got their house in Bhikhiwind town demolished after they were told that it had a “vaastu dosh”. Sarabjit’s family claimed that he had crossed into Pakistan inadvertently in August 1990 in an inebriated state and was arrested there.
But police in Pakistan claim Sarabjit Singh, who is known as Manjit Singh there, was involved in acts of terrorism. A resident of Bhikhiwind Township, along the India-Pakistan border, Sarabjit had been languishing in Pakistani jails since then. He was convicted of staging four bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan in 1990 that claimed 14 lives.
Krishna thanks Zardari on Sarabjit
External Affairs Minister S M Kirshna thanked Pakistan President for paving the way for Sarabjit Singh’s return home after over 20 years of incarceration.
Zardari’s move to act positively on Sarabjit’s mercy petition came closely after an elderly Pakistani virologist Khaleel Chisti was released from an Ajmer jail and reunited with his family in Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Law Ministry has already sent a proposal for the release of Sarabjit to the Interior Ministry.