Shock and gloom greeted residents of this town, 10 km from the Pakistan border, as TV channels flashed the news of Sarabjit Singh’s death warrant.
“Today, I consider myself the most unfortunate sister in the world,” said Dalbir Kaur. “I have only one brother and his name is Sarabjit Singh; not Manjit Singh.”
Condemned to death for his alleged involvement in four blasts in Multan and Lahore in 1990, Sarabjit — who Pakistan believes is ‘spy’ Manjit Singh — will be hanged on April 1 in a Lahore prison, said the Urdu newspaper Daily Express.
His mercy plea was turned down by Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf on March 3.
Dalbir, who has rushed to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, said she would make every effort to reverse the death warrant. She appealed to the Pakistani authorities to make a humanitarian gesture and release him like Kashmir Singh, who was released on March 3. Kashmir had spent 35 years in Pakistan jails.
Refusing to believe her brother will be hanged, she asked the Indian government to contact Islmabad to learn “what is the correct news”.
Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet, surrounded by friends and neighbours who have been pouring in since the news broke, said it would be wrong on the part of the Pakistan government to hang an “innocent” person and the development would derail the Indo-Pak peace process. “We have not got confirmation of the development from official quarters but nothing can be more unfortunate if it is true.”
Her daughter Poonam, too, pleaded with the Centre to take up the matter immediately. Family sources told Hindustan Times that Pakistan caretaker human rights minister Ansar Burney had assured them visas so they could meet Sarabjit before April 1.