Who was Sarabjit: Spy or innocent man?
Sarabjit Singh was a resident of Bhikhiwind, located along the Indo-Pakistani border in Tarn Taran district of Punjab. In 1990, he was arrested for illegally crossing over to Pakistan. Since then, he has spent over 19 years in solitary confinement. On April 26, he was brutally beaten up in a Lahore jail and succumbed to his injuries late on Wednesday night.
Here are the important points in his life since his arrest:
August 28, 1990: Sarabjit Singh was arrested by Pakistani border guards from the Indo-Pak border in an inebriated state. His wife claimed he had gone to work on his fields near the Wagah border and had not returned. Though he was initially charged with illegally crossing into Pakistan, he was later charged with involvement in the four bombings in Faisalabad and Lahore that caused the death of 14 people.
October, 1991: A Pakistani court found him guilty of terrorism and sentenced him to death under the Pakistan Army Act. A higher court later upheld the decision.
March, 2006: Sarabjit appeals for mercy to the Pakistani Supreme court. His petition is rejected.
March 2008: Sarabjit appeals for mercy once more. However, his plea is rejected by then Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf on grounds that it was out of the statutory limitation period. He was sentenced to die on April 1 but president Musharraf deferred his execution by a month following fresh mercy pleas from the Indian government and Sarabjit's family.
December, 2009: Britain based lawyer Jas Uppal takes up Sarabjit's cause and campaigns for his freedom, including launching a website, www.freesarabjitsingh.com.
May, 2012: Sarabjit petitioned once more to President Asaf Ali Zardari for mercy. In June the same year, Zardari commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment.
June, 2012: Pakistani officials indicate Sarabjit may be released as part of a prisoner exchange with India. However, a different man was released in his place, raising the Indian government's ire.
August, 2012: Sarabjit files his sixth mercy petition.
April 26, 2013: Sarabjit is severely beaten up in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore by inmates, putting him in a coma. He was kept in the Jinnah hospital. Several demands by the Indian government to move him to India for treatment, or to a third country, if not India. All such petitions were rejected.
May 1, 2013: Sarabjit dies in Lahore at 1:00am (1:30am IST) of cardiac arrest.