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Musharraf turns down Sarabjit plea

world Updated: Mar 06, 2008 01:46 IST
Aseem Bassi
Aseem Bassi
Hindustan Times
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President Pervez Musharraf has rejected Sarabjit Singh's mercy petition, Pakistan's Interior Ministry said on Wednesday.

Sarabjit, who Pakistan claims is Manjit Singh, a spy, has been condemned to death for alleged involvement in bomb blasts in 1990 that killed 14 people.

His sister Dalbir Kaur said the release of Kashmir Singh, who Pakistan also believed was a spy, on Tuesday had raised her hopes.

Although the mood is sombre at Sarabjit’s hometown Bhikhiwind, Dalbir said they have no information on the plea rejection yet.

“We have heard about the news reports. I have talked to Sarabjit's lawyer in Pakistan and also to (caretaker) Pakistan Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney. They have not confirmed about this till now. Burney had told me that he would call us after confirming this from the President's office,” she said.

Dalbir added that a fax had been sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as well as Sonia Gandhi. “I have written that when the Pakistani President has rejected the mercy petition of my brother then the Indian Government must immediately take up the matter with the Government of Pakistan.”

The people in the PMO, she said, have assured that a telephone conversation with the Prime Minister will be arranged by late evening.

She said Burney had assured her that he would fight for Sarabjit’s release when the two met at the Wagah border where Kashmir Singh was released.

Poonam, Sarabjit's daughter, said: "I have also heard about this (the plea rejection). My father is innocent and has done nothing wrong. I appeal to the Pakistan Government to rethink on this and set my father free."

Sarabjit was sentenced to death by Lahore High Court in 2003 for his alleged involvement in four bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed around 14 people. His family denies he was a spy as claimed by Pakistan and insists he had accidentally strayed into that country. The Pakistan Supreme Court had rejected Sarabjit's mercy petition in March

2006 and upheld his death sentence.