Punjab

In goodwill move, Pak prisoner freed

In a rare goodwill gesture, India on Wednesday sent a Pakistani national Jamaal Qurashi back home within two days of his acquittal in a counterfeit currency case by a Shahjahanpur court in Uttar Pradesh.

Qurashi’s prompt acquittal came as a surprise for human rights activists who are demanding release of hundreds of people languishing in the jails in India and Pakistan, years after completing their sentences.

India is understood to have ensured early repatriation of 30-year-old Qurashi to give an impetus to the ‘Save Sarabjit’ campaign.

Following his acquittal in a counterfeit currency case of March 2005, he was brought here by a UP police party and handed over to Pakistan through the Attari land route.

Sindh-based Qurashi, who had accompanied his mother Kadiran in 2005 to a relative’s place in Shahjahanpur, had been caught with some counterfeit currency and was taken into custody. While he was kept back to undergo trial, his mother was allowed to return.

Qurashi said he was hoodwinked by a money-changer during an exchange of currencies, resulting in his arrest and being sent to jail for two-and-half years.

Feeling excited about his safe return, Qurashi said he would have to start his life afresh. Before being arrested, he was working at a meat shop in Karachi.

“My fianceé Sazda — with whom I got engaged before visiting India and being caught here — would be waiting for me and I wouldn’t waste any more time in marrying her,” he said.

Before crossing over to Pakistan he said that both countries should build new bridges of mutual trust by releasing all the prisoners from their respective jails.

Pakistan’s Caretaker Minister for Human Rights Ansar Burney joined his family in receiving him on the Pakistani side of the border.

 

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