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Sarabjit's kin return home with hope
Rezaul H Laskar | April 29, 2008 14:19 IST
The family of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh today described him as a 'victim of bad luck' and appealed to the Pakistan government to pardon him as they left for India following a week-long visit to the country.
Coverage: The Sarabjit Singh Saga
"When I come back again, I hope you will send Sarabjit back with me. And we will all celebrate at this same spot," Dalbir Kaur, the condemned man's sister, told media persons at the Wagah border post as the family left for India.
"My brother is a victim of bad luck," she said.
The family had an emotional reunion with Sarabjit after 18 years in Lahore's [Images] Kot Lakhpat jail the following day. The family had sought permission for another meeting with Sarabjit, but had to leave without seeing him as their visas, which were valid for only a week, expired on Tuesday.
Sarabjit's execution was on Monday put off by Pakistan authorities for up to three weeks, with officials describing it as a 'procedural postponement'.
Efforts to save Sarabjit from the gallows too received a boost with former premier Nawaz Sharif asking the Pakistan government not to hang him on humanitarian grounds.
However, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz chief did not favour an unconditional pardon for Sarabjit, sentenced to death for alleged involvement in bomb attacks in Pakistan nearly two decades ago.
Sharif said Sarabjit should be released on the condition that he would be sent back to Pakistan if concrete evidence is found against him. Sharif also suggested that any review of Sarabjit's case by the Pakistan government should be linked to similar action by the Indian government in the cases of Pakistanis currently being held in the neighbouring country.
Asked by media persons about the admission by Kashmir Singh, another Indian prisoner recently released by Pakistan, about being a spy, Dalbir said a differentiation should be made between his case and that of Sarabjit.
Dalbir also appealed to prison authorities in India and Pakistan to treat all prisoners, irrespective of their nationality, as human beings.
She admitted that Sarabjit was now in fine health, but said no one should face the same treatment that he had endured in his earlier years in prison.
"Whenever a person is arrested, police don't treat him with love," she said.
Poonam, the younger of Sarabjit's two daughters, said, "I don't think the prison authorities are troubling my father. The jail superintendent told us he is a very good person."
Sarabjit was sentenced to death for alleged involvement in four bomb blasts that killed 14 people in 1990. He was originally set to be hanged on April 1, but his execution was deferred for 30 days by President Pervez Musharraf [Images].
This was done so that Pakistan's new government could review his case following an appeal for clemency from the Indian government.