Surjeet Singh to be released today

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Lahore, Jun 28: Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh, who has served a life term following his arrest on charges of spying in the 1980s, will be freed from a prison in this eastern Pakistani city and handed over to Indian authorities on Jun 28, an official said.

Singh, 69, will be released from Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore at 10 am on Thursday, a senior official of the prison department of Punjab province said. Policemen will escort Singh to the Wagah land border crossing, where he will be handed over to Indian authorities, the official, who did not wish to be named, told PTI.

Singh has been in Pakistani captivity for over 30 years. Awais Sheikh, the counsel for Singh, told the media that the Indian national was arrested by Pakistani police on charges of spying during the regime of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq. Singh was given the death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1989 by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

Sources said Singh had held meetings with other prisoners in Kot Lakhpat Jail to bid them farewell. He also requested the authorities to serve him 'sewai' to celebrate his impending release, the sources said. Singh is expected to be repatriated along with 315 Indian fishermen who were freed from a jail in the southern port city of Karachi on Wednesday.

The fishermen were released as a goodwill gesture, officials said.

Hours after reports emerged yesterday that Pakistan was to free Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, the presidential spokesman clarified that authorities had actually ordered the release of Surjeet and not Sarabjit.

PTI

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