Indian prisoners relatives demand their release from Pak jails

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Jammu, Apr 25 : Relatives of Indian prisoners lodged in Pakistan's jail demanded their release.

"Since 1971, several Indian prisoners including many from Jammu and Kashmir are languishing in Pakistan jails. Their kin are trying hard from last 37 years to meet their family members and to get them released. Now, the government of both India and Pakistan are taking efforts to develop their friendship and to maintain cordial relations. So, we see a new ray of hope," said Gurdev Singh, general secretary of a Sikh shrine in Jammu.

A new ray of hope rose after Sarabjit Singh's family met him in Kot Lakhpat Jail. Sarabjit was the Indian national on death row in Pakistan.

Sarabjit Singh had recently sent a special request to authorities in Islamabad to be allowed to meet his younger daughter Poonam whom he has never seen. His older daughter was two-and-a-half years old and the younger one was 23 days old when Sarabjit had accidentally crossed into Pakistan in 1990. arabjit is languishing in Pakistani jails for the last 18 years.

Sarabjit, who Pakistan claims is Manjit Singh, was sentenced to death in 1991 for his alleged involvement in four bomb blasts that killed 14 people.

His family denies he is a spy as claimed by Pakistan and insists that he accidentally strayed into Pakistani territory. His execution was deferred for 30 days by President Pervez Musharraf last month so that Pakistan's new government could review his case following an appeal for clemency from India.

Sarabjit has repeatedly reiterated that his was a case of mistaken identity and that he had not committed the crimes he was convicted for.

The Indian High Commission in Pakistan also insists that he is Sarabjit and not Manjit as claimed by the Pakistan Government.

Incidentally, the newly elected Pakistan Government has also been favouring the Sarabjit's case. They had in fact asked for commuting of all death sentences to life imprisonment.

Sarabjit was to be hanged on April 1, but was put off till April 30 after India had appealed to the Pakistan Government for clemency.

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