An Indian national on death row in a Pakistani jail has filed a fresh clemency appeal to President Asif Ali Zardari.
It is the fifth mercy petition by Sarabjeet Singh, who was condemned to death for his involvement in a string of bombings in Punjab in 1990. Currently, he is imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat prison.
Sarabjeet’s fresh petition, signed by 100,000 Indians, urges President Zardari to reciprocate the release of Pakistani virologist Dr Khalil Chishty by the Indian government. Dr Chishty has been reunited with his family in Karachi.
Attached with the petition are two letters addressed to the president from the chief cleric of Delhi’s Jamia Masjid, Maulana Syed Ahmed Bukhari, and caretaker of the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, Syed Muhammad Yamin Hashmi.
According to Sarabjeet’s counsel, Advocate Owais Sheikh, his client also gave a two-page letter to be sent to the president. “I’ve forwarded both the petition and the letter to President Zardari,” Sheikh told The Express Tribune.
The petition, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, says that Dr Chishty’s release has rekindled hopes for Singh. “This (Dr Chishty’s release) has given my client a new hope for freedom,” said Sheikh.
Sarabjeet Singh, 49, maintains that his was a case of mistaken identity, since even the FIR was not registered in his name. “I have spent 22 years in the prison for a crime I have not committed,” asserts Singh in his petition.
The FIR had nominated Manjeet Singh for carrying out four bomb blasts in different cities of Punjab, according to the petition.
Sarabjeet’s counsel maintained that he had documentary proof that his client was in India at the time of bombings. “Manjeet Singh was, indeed, a terrorist but the authorities have mistaken Sarabjeet for Manjeet,” he claimed.
In his letter to the president, Maulana Bukhari pointed out that Sarabjeet’s sister Dalbir Kaur had met him personally and provided ‘vital evidence’ which proved the latter’s innocence.
“Singh should be freed on humanitarian grounds, which will not only help in promoting goodwill between the two neighbours but will also result in promoting communal harmony among Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims of India,” Maulana Bukhari wrote.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2012.