Thursday, September 01, 2005
A bid for life
It all began on August 28, 1990 when Sarabjit Singh, 40 strayed into Pakistan apparently in an inebriated state. Two days later he was arrested by the Pakistani Rangers near the Kasur border and jailed on charges of espionage. They alleged he was Manjit Singh of India’s Research and Analysis Wing and that he was involved in bomb blast. An anti-terrorism court implicated him on October 2 that year and he was awarded the death sentence. Sarabjit appealed to the apex court.
In mid-July, Sukhpreet kaur, 36, wife of Sarabjit Singh of Bikhiwind in Amritsar, was jubilant. She had received a message that her husband Sarabjit, sentenced to death in Pakistan, would be released after15 years. On Independence Day, the two countries would show warmth and bonhomie by exchanging prisoners from across the border, she was told. But on August 20, her world shattered when the Pakistan Supreme Court upheld the death sentence.
Sukhpreet’s hopes were raised when she heard from Pakistani advocate Rana Abdul Hamid, who was fighting for her husband’s release, that he had more or less establishes that Sarabjit was not a spy. Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir had taken a personal interest in the case. But it had all been in vain.
Sukphreet is now determined to fight for her husband, who she says is innocent. Helped by relatives and neighbors in the village, and her daughters Sapnadeep and Poonam, she had taken the Sarabjit story to most homes in the country through the media. The family approached Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Abdul Kalam for his release. The issue was raised in Parliament.
While the case is being taken up at the highest levels in the two countries, Sarabjit’s younger daughter, who has never seen her father, is organizing a protest along with her schoolmates. They will appeal to President Musharraf, Sukhpreet says. We will appeal to Allah and Wahegure. What else can we do?
When we got the news of the death sentence, we felt like committing suicide in protest, she says. Then decided that we have to fight the case again. We have to be strong. Some of the family members are praying.
Like them we can also pray for our brother Sarabjit