Thursday, June 28, 2012

Surjeet Singh crosses over to India after 31 years in Pakistan jail

Surjeet Singh crosses over to India after 31 years in Pakistan jail

Attari (Amritsar), June 28 (PTI): Setting foot on home soil after spending 31 years in Pakistan jail, Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh on Thursday arrived here to an emotional welcome by friends and family who broke into celebrations on catching his glimpse.

Surjeet, 69, was released from Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail this morning, crossed to the Indian side at Wagah border after being handed over by Pakistani security personnel who had held him by an iron chain attached to his belt.

Surjeet Singh told reporters, "After 30 years, I am meeting my children. I am very happy".

As soon he entered India, Surjeet Singh hugged his family members including wife Harbans Kaur, son Kulwinder Singh and grandchildren besides villagers from his native village Phidde who garlanded him.

Dressed in a plain white kurta pyjama and sporting a black turban, Surjeet said that he wished to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple before leaving for Phidde village in Ferozpur district.

Singh served a life term following his arrest on charges of spying in the 1980s in Pakistan. He was given the death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1989 by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

Talking about another Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh who is lodged in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, Surjeet said he will make efforts to release him.

"I am sure now I will get Sarbjeet Singh released from Pakistan jail, don't know how I will do it but certainly I will meet the authorities concerned in India for Sarbjeet Singh," he said.

He claimed that all efforts for the release of Sarbjit Singh by India proved futile as certain groups in Pakistan opposed his release.

Surjeet attributed the mix up on the relase of Sarabjit to a spelling mistake. "All this happened due to spelling mistakes as in Urdu language the spelling of Surjeet and Sarbjeet are almost similar," he claimed.

Asked as to why he crossed over to Pakistan, he said, "Yes I went there for spying". Surjeet said he would never like to set foot on Pakistan again.

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