The prayers of the family of Sarabjit Singh,a Indian prisoner on death row in Pakistan,were finally answered on Tuesday after the Pakistan President decided to commute his death sentence,paving the way for his repatriation to India.
I cannot wait to hug my father,as he crosses over to India from Wagah, Sarabjits eldest daughter Swapandeep Kaur (23) told The Indian Express over phone from Jalandhar. Her father has been lodged in Pakistan jails for over two decades on charges of carrying out serial bomb blasts in Lahore in 1990.
Finally,God has listened to our prayers. We are thankful to the Indian government,Pakistani government,media and everyone who made efforts to secure the release of my father, Swapandeep said,adding that she came to know about the news through the media. As soon as we heard the news,our joy knew no bounds, she said.
We will go with a car decorated with flowers to receive him from the Attari border amid beats of Bhangra. I cannot express how happy I am thinking I will see my husband after more than 20 years. I will like to thank all who stood by us in our struggle to get him released, said an emotional Sukhpreet Kaur,Sarabjits wife who is living with her younger daughter Poonam in Bhikhiwind.
Sarabjits sister Dalbir Kaur,who spearheaded a long battle and knocked every door to secure the release of her brother,was equally ecstatic and emotional. She was now waiting to see her brother at the earliest.
In Pakistan,there was a mixed reaction to the development. While Sarabjits lawyer Awaiz Sheikh said his efforts finally bore the fruit in getting Sarabjit released,a section of religious leaders were learnt to have held a demonstration outside Lahore Press Club to express their resentment over the issue. A group of Maulvis are registering their protest outside Lahore Press Club against the relief to Sarabjit Singh and against me for fighting his case, Sheikh said over phone from Pakistan.
He added: I had made a fresh petition to the Pakistani President,urging him to reciprocate the Indian gesture of releasing Khalil Chishty by releasing Sarabjit. That has been answered in a positive manner. I will accompany Sarabjit on his return to Indian. It will take another three to four days to complete procedural formalities to get Sarabjit out of jail.
The case of Sarabjit had not only got national but international attention with Dalbir Kaur roping in a number of eminent personalities in her struggle to secure his release,including noted human rights activist from Pakistan,Ansar Burney.