BHIKIWIND - The government must intervene to save Sarabjit Singh’s life, said the distraught family of the Indian prisoner who has been on death row in Pakistan for 18 years after news came in that the Pakistani Supreme Court had rejected his mercy petition.
“We are shocked that this has happened. We never expected that his petition would be rejected on technical grounds because his lawyer did not appear,” Sarabjit Singh’s daughter Poonam said in the border town of Bhikiwind, 275 km from the state capital Chandigarh.
She added that the lawyer earlier representing Sarabjit Singh had recently told the family that he had become a government lawyer and could no longer appear for him.
“He assigned the case to another lawyer but the second one also did not appear before the court leading to rejection of his plea. The Indian government must intervene to save my father,” Poonam added.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court Wednesday dismissed Sarabjit Singh’s review petition that challenged his death sentence.
A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Justice Raja Fayyaz gave the verdict, the News International reported.
Sarabjit Singh had inadvertently crossed into Pakistan August 1990 in a drunken state and was arrested there, his family claims.
He was later blamed for causing four bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that led to the death of 14 people in 1990. He was sentenced to death in 1991 by a court in Pakistan and later his death sentence was upheld by the Pakistan Supreme Court.
Sarabjit Singh’s mercy plea to President Pervez Musharraf was rejected in 2008 and he was to be hanged on March 31. But his hanging was postponed following the intervention of the Indian government.
He is lodged in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.
His family was given Pakistani visas April last year to visit him in prison in Lahore. The family, including his wife, sister and two daughters, met him there after 18 years.
When he was arrested inside Pakistani territory in 1990, one of his daughters was a toddler while the second one was born later.