It’s after his death that Karamat Rahi, 70, who had remained in a Pakistani jail for 17 years on the charge of spying, has been able to get a written assurance from the government, promising financial relief to his family and job for his son. Rahi died at an Amritsar hospital after prolonged illness on Wednesday, but his family refused to bury his body till the government fulfilled their demand.
Earlier, even courts had rejected Rahi’s plea for compensation and a job for his kin as he had failed to provide proof of engaging in covert activities across the border. Following the family’s protestation, however, the district administration finally produced a written assurance on Thursday, and last rites of Rahi, who was a converted Christian, were performed at his native village, Khera Kalan, in the evening.
Rahi came into contact with an intelligence agency in 1983 and after two years of training, he was sent across the border a number of times, his son Ranjeet told HT.
The last time this Indian “spy” infiltrated into Pakistan was in 1988. On July 26 that year he was caught by the army in Lahore, while stealing secrets from a cantonment, and subsequently sentenced to 14 years in jail, said Ranjeet.
“Despite serving his term, my father was not released. It was after the then chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s intervention that he returned home in 2005,” he said.
After his return, Rahi kept fighting to get recognition and compensation for his sacrifice, but to no avail. Feeling betrayed by the government, he filed a petition in the high court, but it was rejected. Adding salt to his wounds, he was asked to pay a fine for wasting the court’s time. A fresh appeal in the Supreme Court, too, bore no result, as he was asked to provide proof of his covert activities in Pakistan.
“Intelligence agencies recruit spies selling them dreams of getting prosperous. They are promised both money and security, but once a spy gets arrested, everything is forgotten,” said Ranjeet.
Rahi’s widow, Surinder Kaur, said she used to get a monthly allowance of `300 after her husband was arrested, but that too stopped within 10 months.
For the past couple of months, Rahi was not keeping well and he was undergoing treatment at various hospitals at Batala and Amritsar. “I borrowed more than `1.5 lakh from my relatives for my father’s treatment. On Wednesday, he breathed his last at Guru Ramdas Hospital in Amritsar,” said Ranjeet.
When Batala sub-divisional magistrate Saurav Arora got to know about the family’s refusal to perform the last rites, he rushed to their house on Wednesday, but couldn’t convince them.
The deadlock was broken when additional deputy commissioner (general) JS Grewal reached their house and gave them a written assurance about financial relief to them and a government job for Ranjeet.