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Sarabjit's sister hopes to meet him again, without bars

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
April 25, 2008 16:13 IST
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Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh's sister, who had an emotional reunion with him in a Lahore jail, is hoping to get another chance to meet him, but this time without bars coming between the siblings.

Dalbir Kaur carried 18 'rakhis' for her brother for all those years he was away when she met him along with his wife and daughters at the Kot Lakhpat jail on Thursday.

"The meeting was very emotional. I carried 18 'rakhis' for my brother. Initially, he was very reluctant to let me tie them on his wrist because he did not have any gift to give me," Kaur told PTI on phone from Lahore on Friday.

She was upset that Sarabjit, sentenced to death for alleged involvement in the 1990 blasts in Punjab province that killed 14 people, was behind bars at the time of the meeting and therefore she could not interact properly.

"I wish I could meet him in the open without the bars coming in between us," she said.

"He was trying to hide all his problems and put on a brave face because he did not want us to become upset," she said.

Kaur also carried sweets for Sarabjit, whose April 1 hanging was postponed for 30 days by President Pervez Musharraf.

"I fed him sweets. When he was a child he would bite my finger when I fed him sweets. He did that even on Thursday," she said fondly.

Sarabjit's family's visa is valid for a week and they are allowed to be in Lahore and visit Nankana Sahib, the birth place of Guru Nanak. The family will visit Nankana Sahib on Friday and pray for Sarabjit's release.

Kaur said she has spoken to PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif's aides and hopes to meet him tomorrow. She is also likely to meet Pakistan Human Rights Commission chief Asma Jehangir and former human rights minister Ansar Burney.

Kaur said she spoke to PPP spokesperson Farhatullah Babar and sought permission to come to Islamabad and meet Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani. She described Thursday's meeting with Sarabjit as emotional and said his younger daughter Poonam saw him for the first time.

"If anyone saw their relatives in the conditions in which I met my brother, they would be shocked. It is my fervent plea to the governments of both countries that all prisoners should be released unconditionally," she said shortly after meeting her brother on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Pakistani television channels have been airing footage of the 1990 blasts and interviews with families of victims. These families are blaming Sarabjit for the blasts and are staging protests in Lahore demanding he be executed.

Aman, a youth whose father was killed in the blasts, has threatened to commit suicide if Sarabjit is granted mercy. Sarabjit's family has also been speaking to the media saying that he is innocent and that he accidentally strayed into Pakistan in a drunken state.

Another youth, who lost his father when he was just three years old, too favoured Sarabjit's execution. "Can anyone bring back my father whom I lost when I was barely three years old," Zeeshan told a local TV channel.

Sonia Shaukat, whose father Shaukat Jan was killed in the blasts, said 'we are not going to forgive him. Their father is still alive but my father is no longer here. Will forgiving him bring back my father?"

Her mother said the family had to face tremendous hard- ships after her husband's death.

"I did not even have money to buy milk for my children. No one knows how I brought them up."

Some other victims' families said the President had not right to grant mercy to Sarabjit and he should be hanged at the same place where their near and dear ones were killed.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.