ISLAMABAD: After an unusual twist in the story of Indian ‘Sarabjit Singh’, the Presidency said late on Tuesday night that it was not him but the much older ‘Surjeet Singh’ whom Pakistan had decided to release.
Last evening, the media widely reported that the government had decided to free Sarabjit Singh. But later presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar clarified that the authorities had taken steps for the release of another Indian prisoner named Surjeet Singh, and not Sarabjit Singh.
Mr Babar said in a statement, “I think there is some confusion. First, it is not a case of pardon. More importantly, it is not Sarabjit. It is Surjeet Singh, son of Sucha Singh. His death sentence was commuted in 1989 by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the advice of (then premier) Benazir Bhutto,” he said. Any references to President Asif Ali Zardari in the entire matter were “out of context”, the presidential spokesman said.
However, in a statement today India’s Foreign Minister SM Krishna, said that Pakistan should sympathetically consider Sarabjit Singh’s case. He said that all such Indian prisoners who have completed their sentence should be released by Pakistan.
Indian Foreign Minister said that India welcomes the release of Surjit Singh.
Surjeet Singh has been in jail for three decades and his son Kulwinder Singh is over the moon. “My father has been in jail for three decades. His crime was that he crossed over the border. He completed his sentence five years ago, but is still in jail,” he said.
According to Surjeet Singh’s lawyer Awais Sheikh, he was captured from near the India-Pakistan border in 1981 during the Zia-ul Haq regime. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to life imprisonment, and his jail term ended in 2004. Surjeet Singh — a resident of Ferozepur — is now lodged in Punjab’s Kot Lakpat Jail, where Sarajbit Singh is also an inmate.