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Kashmir Singh says hope kept him alive

The freed Indian national who had spent 35 years on death row in Pakistani jails denies any wrongdoing. Freedom song
PTI | By HT Correspondent, Lahore
UPDATED ON MAR 04, 2008 12:46 PM IST

Freed Indian national Kashmir Singh who had spent 35 years on death row in Pakistani jails after being convicted of espionage on Tuesday denied any wrongdoing and said it was "hope" which kept him alive during incarceration.

"Yes, I was accused of espionage and smuggling. But I did not do anything of that sort and they found nothing on me when they arrested me," the 60-year-old, pardoned last week by President Pervez Musharraf, told reporters before crossing the border to return to his homeland.

An emotional Singh, who spent the night at a five-star hotel after stepping out of Kot Lakhpath jail on Monday, said: "Hope keeps us alive. If there is no hope, then it would be difficult to live." Singh had said he was looking forward to be reunited with his family.

"I am seeing the lights, the hustle and bustle. I feel like I'm in some other world. I am laughing. I don't remember the last time I laughed like this," he said.

Singh could be released after his case was taken up by caretaker Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney.
"I hope he spends the rest of his life happily," Burney said.

Singh was convicted of spying and sentenced to death by a military court in Lahore, but Burney said the government stayed his execution in the late 1970s.

Singh's release from jail was beamed live on all Pakistani news channels.

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