At least one Indian prisoner, Surjeet Singh, stranded in Pakistan can count the days down to freedom after the Punjab home department informed the Lahore High Court that he had been given civil internee status and would be sent back to India within three months.
A home department letter was presented before Justice Manzoor Ahmed Malik, which had earlier been sent to the superintendent of Central Jail Lahore, where Singh (not to be confused with high-profile Indian prisoner Sarabjeet) is imprisoned. Justice Malik was hearing a petition for the release of Singh which stated that he had been languishing in prison even after completing his jail term.
Advocate Awais Sheikh had filed the petition seeking Singh’s release. Sheikh had requested the court to issue directions to the secretary of foreign affairs and superintendent of central jail Lahore to include the name of Singh in the list of foreigner prisoners who have already completed their jail term.
The superintendent of the Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore, had submitted a report at the previous hearing which stated that the jail term of the Indian national had expired a year ago but his fate could only be decided after directions from the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi and the presidency.
Madan Lal’s case
On other hand, Justice Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court on Monday disposed of a petition which sought the location of another Indian national imprisoned in Pakistan. The judge disposed of this petition after hearing the reply of the Punjab IG Prisons stating that Indian National Madan Lal is not in any jail in Punjab.
At this, Advocate Sheikh tried to convince the court to issue directions to the interior ministry to provide information about the whereabouts of Lal. However, the court rejected his request saying that he should approach the foreign office himself and in case of their denial he should approach the court.
Advocate Sheikh filed the petition saying that during his recent visit to India he met one Suraj Bhan in Amritsar. He said Bhan told him that his brother Madan Lal mistakenly entered Pakistan in 1967 and was arrested by the authorities.
He said Indian authorities informed Suraj Bhan that Lal was last seen in June 1984 in Bahawalnagar district jail.
Sheikh said that with the permission of the Punjab home secretary, he visited the Lahore central jail superintendent in order to meet Lal, however, the jail authorities informed him that no such person was in the jail. He said a written request was submitted to the IG prisons in this regard but in vain.
The lawyer prayed to the court to direct the government to trace the whereabouts of Madan Lal and order his repatriation.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.
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