|Photo Courtesy: Indian Express|
A pall of gloom has descended on the family of Sarabjit Singh in India, whose name was “mistakenly’ announced by the Pakistan government for release.
The Pakistan government corrected the mistake almost five hours later and clarified that another prisoner named Surjeet would be released because he had finished serving his life sentence.
“The latest news wherein I was informed that my brother is not released is a cruel joke with the family whose sentiments have been badly hurt,” said Dalbir Kaur, sister of Sarabjit.
Sarabjit, 49, is held up at at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Pakistan.
He was sentenced to death for alleged involvement in a string of blasts in Punjab province in the neighboring country in 1990.
Kaur, however, said that she would continue her struggle for her brother’s release since he is “innocent.”
“I would again visit Pakistan to seek appointment with President Asif Ali Zardari to do the needful for the release of my brother,” she added.
Earlier, the news of Sarabjit’s release triggered celebrations in his native Bikhiwind village in Punjab.
Pakistan’s late night U-turn created confusion in the media with many leading newspapers carrying news of Sarabjit’s release.
Reacting to the faux pas, the federal government hoped that the neighboring country would look at this contradiction “sensitively".
Foreign Affairs Minister S. M. Krishna made a fresh appeal to the Pakistan government to release the prisoner.
"I further renew our request to the President of Pakistan to release Sarabjit Singh who has been in custody for over two decades and is serving death sentence," Krishna said.
There is considerable debate among Indian officials about whether Pakistani media made a huge mistake or if the that government was pressured by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) or the Pakistani army to reverse its decision to release Sarabjit.
Sarabjit’s case has prompted campaigns by human rights activists, including Pakistani Ansar Burney.
"The Presidency spokesperson spoke to several media houses in Pakistan and he never corrected anyone saying its Surjeet, not Sarabjit. However, eight hours after the news flashing a clarification is issued. There is something wrong in this. There could be some pressure on the Presidency or there is something else," said Burney.
Source: The Hindu/NDTV
India: Sinha added that creating a separate category of gender on the electoral lists..