The sister of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian on death row in Pakistan following his conviction for alleged involvement in bomb attacks, on Friday urged the Pakistan government to send a special team to India to re-investigate his case.
Dalbir Kaur told a press conference in Lahore that her brother was innocent and a Pakistani team could investigate and ascertain the facts both within the country and in India.
"Every resident of my village in India will endorse my version as Manjeet Singh, the real culprit responsible for the bomb blasts in Pakistan, has been arrested in India," she said.
Kaur, who arrived in Pakistan on June 6 to lobby Pakistani leaders to release Sarabjit, met her brother in Kot Lakhpat Jail last month. She said, "I am going back with a strong hope that the Pakistan government will soon release my brother. Please release Sarabjit on humanitarian grounds or after reinvestigating his case."
Indian and Pakistani nationals awaiting trial in each other's prisons should be released as a goodwill gesture, said Kaur, who is scheduled to leave Pakistan on July 5. She lauded the hospitality of Pakistanis, saying, "The environment in Lahore is like that at home as the people here treat me as like their sister."
During her stay in Pakistan, Kaur visited the shrines of Hazrat Ali Hajveri and Hazrat Mian Mir, where she and her hosts prayed for the release of her brother. She thanked leading Pakistani rights activist Ansar Burney for helping her get a visa.
Kaur praised Burney for his role in freeing six Indian sailors from Somali pirates along with other members of the crew of the MV Suez.
She also thanked Pakistan's judiciary for allowing her to see her brother which otherwise would not have been possible because the prison authorities had initially refused to permit her to meet Sarabjit.
Sarabjit has been on death row since he was convicted for alleged involvement in four bomb blasts in 1990 that killed 14 people. The verdict was upheld by the Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court. His family insists he was wrongly convicted for the bombings.
Though Sarabjit was set to be hanged in 2008, Pakistani authorities put off his execution indefinitely after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani intervened in the matter.
Awais Sheikh, the counsel of Sarabjit, said he had appealed to President Asif Ali Zardari to convert his client's death penalty to life imprisonment.He said Sarabjit had already spent 21 years in jail. "Sarabjit is innocent and was never involved in bomb explosions in Pakistan," Sheikh said. The release of Sarabjit will be a positive gesture to the Indian people and it will help reduce tensions between the two countries, he said.