LAHORE: Indian spy Gopal Das, held in Pakistan for 27 years was handed over to Indian officials at Wagah border on Thursday. Das was released on presidential orders.
The spy was transferred from the Kot Lakhpat jail to Wagah Border in a special vehicle. The notification by President Asif Ali Zardari to remit the remainder of the spy’s prison sentence was issued on March 27.
President Zardari issued the notice on humanitarian grounds following an appeal from India’s Supreme Court.
Das — who told reporters he was 26 when he was arrested — was sentenced to life in prison in June 1987 and had been due for release by the end of this year.
Pakistan’s presidency did not say why he was convicted, but Das himself confirmed reports that he had been jailed for spying.
“Yes… I went to Pakistan on a spying mission and I was arrested for espionage,” said Das, who was clearly angered by what he saw as his abandonment by the Indian authorities.
“Indian intelligence never bothered to get me released from jail in Pakistan,” he said.
“I carry a grudge against the Indian leadership because it does not bother about Indian prisoners still rotting in Pakistan prisons for many years,” he added.
He made a point of thanking the president and prime minister of Pakistan for his early release.
Das had entered a plea to the Indian apex court through his brother, which ruled that while it had no jurisdiction in Pakistan, it could make an appeal for his release to the Pakistan government.
Justice Markandey Katju of the Indian Supreme Court reportedly also quoted Pakistani poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz in his ruling: “Qafas uddas hai yaaro sabaa se kuch to kaho, Kaheen to beher-e-khuda aaj zikr-e-yaar chale.” (The prison is gloomy; O Friends! Tell the eastern wind, To at least allow some talk of my beloved for divinity’s sake)
The remission is mostly symbolic since it comes only a few months before he was scheduled to be released. However, it is being viewed as another gesture on the part of Pakistan towards improving relations between the two South Asian rivals.
With additional input from AFP