During their lifetime, their paths never crossed, but in death, Pakistani convict Sanaullah Haq has become inextricably linked with his Indian counterpart Sarabjit Singh, who died in Lahore last week.
On May 3, Sanaullah was on gardening duty in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal jail. A couple of metres away, another inmate Vinod Singh Bisht was also tending to the plants. The day before, students of the local law college had visited the jail and there had been a cultural programme. Sanaullah had played the bagpipe as usual. Nothing seemed out of place.
Sanaullah was taking a break from the digging when Vinod joined him and over a beedi they started talking.
Gardening had always been Sanaullah’s passion, even back home in Sialkot, Pakistan, 30km from Jammu city. And then in the 1990s he put down the trowel and the sprinkler and took up the gun.
He got associated with the Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist group.
According to police records, he was involved in a bomb blast in Satwari Chowk in Jammu on July 16, 1994. Four people died in the incident. On November 20, 1994 he planted another bomb at Nagorta, in the outskirts of Jammu city. This time, 10 people died in the blast and he was arrested.
Five years later he ended up in Kot Bhalwal jail.
“He always wanted gardening duty and would like to be around flowers when he was out of the barracks. He usually got permission because of his good conduct,” says the superintendent of Kot Bhalwal jail, Rajni Sehgal, who was suspended eventually.
Sehgal also knew that Sanaullah and Vinod liked to chat. They had never been known to get into a scuffle before.
That and snatches of conversation heard by some of the other police personnel on duty led Sehgal to conclude that it was possibly a discussion about Sarabjit that had brought on the outburst on May 3.
One minute they were talking animatedly and the next minute Vinod had attacked Sanaullah with one of the bricks lying around for building enclosures for saplings.