Pakistan returns Kashmir to India

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Lahore, Mar 4 (UNI) Indian national Kashmir Singh, who was released yesterday after languishing in Pakistani jails for 35 years on a death row, crossed into Attari from Wagah border today.

He was seen off at the bordering town of Wagah by Human Rights minister Ansar Burney.

''I am very happy to return to India. I am grateful to President Pervez Musharraf for giving me a new lease of life,'' Singh said before returning to his home in Hoshiarpur, Punjab.

Singh said he wanted to reach home as early as possible to meet his wife and children. Singh thanked Mr Burney, with tears in his eyes, and embraced him before he crossed the border.

Singh was arrested in 1973 in Rawalpindi and soon afterwards was sentenced to death by a court martial in Lahore on espionage charges.

He has been in a death cell ever since, in conditions that the Human Rights minister described as ''hell on Earth.'' After locating Singh, Mr Burney had launched a campaign through his human rights organisation, Ansar Burney Trust, and the Pakistani Ministry of Human Rights and through his prominent to search for Singh's family.

Singh, who was working as a 'Sipahi' in Amritsar Police in Punjab, lost his job and began to smuggle material from Pakistan to India in order to earn money.

He and his accomplice were arrested while smuggling material from Peshawar to India in 1973.

The other man was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment and repatriated to India many years ago, while Singh was sentenced to death on espionage charges.

The oldest of three brothers and a sister, Singh had married his childhood love at the young age of 16; they had two sons and a daughter and had been married for 10 years when Singh was arrested in Pakistan. He has not seen any of them since.


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