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پیر، 6 مئی، 2013

India honours a convicted killer

What they are doing in Sarbajit Singh episode, aren’t the Indian government and the Indian media encouraging the Indian nationals to come to Pakistan and kill innocent people to become national heroes back in India upon return, no matter dead or alive?

The act of the inmates of the jail where Sarabjit was imprisoned is indeed condemnable, but the way India bestowed on him the honors proves beyond doubt that he was a spy and a terrorist. Sarabjit Singh was given the best possible treatment, but he died of severe injuries on 2nd May.

On May 3, in what was a tit-for-tat assault, a 52-year old Pakistani prisoner named Rana Sanaullah Haq, who was serving a life term in a jail in Jammu, was attacked on the head by Indian inmates, suffering serious injuries, and was reported to be in critical condition. Sanaullah was admitted to the Government Medical College hospital in Jammu and his condition was reported to be serious. One should ask the question why India had not taken steps to avoid such attack when it knew that there could be reaction against Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. This could be a planned act of quid pro quo; but one can look at the treatment to Pakistani prisoners in India.

In 2009, two Pakistani prisoners had died in Indian custody - one was Mohammad Akram, and the other one Mehmoud Khalid, a Pakistani citizen, who had gone to India to watch a cricket test match where he lost his passport for which he was subjected to sever torture resulting in his death. According to his elder brother Siddiq, Khalid had sent them a couple of letters and messages from the Indian prison to the effect he had been facing torture at the hands of Indian authorities. Unfortunately nobody could save Khalid - neither any lawyer like Ansar Burney, nor any human rights organization. Pakistani prisoner Akram had expired in Indian custody, who had crossed the border in the Kasur area on 8th February 2007and was arrested by the Indian authorities. He was a patient of schizophrenia as claimed by his family. What was shocking for most of Pakistanis was the post-mortem report of Muhammad Akram, according to which, his heart, kidneys, lungs, liver and intestines were taken out from the body before handing it over to Pakistani authorities.

Earlier, a Pakistani sepoy Maqbool Hussain was released after forty years of incarceration by Indian authorities in a condition that he had a paralyzed body, cut tongue and imbalance mind, as he had gone through the worst kind of torture and cruelties. On the other hand, Pakistan had released an Indian spy, Kashmir Singh, on humanitarian grounds. 

Later, on arrival in India, Kashmir Singh confessed his crime, and it transpired that he had lied that he was not an Indian spy. Watching media coverage of a hale and healthy Indian spy going back to his country amid warm farewell with ‘protocol’, and receiving the dead bodies of Pakistani prisoners in return, was heart-rending not only for the families of deceased prisoners but also for the whole nation. Anyhow, Sarabjit Singh was awarded the death penalty by the Anti-Terrorist Court in 1991, based on the original confession he had made before a magistrate. 

Pakistan had not executed for 22 years despite the fact that his sentence was upheld by the High Court and later by the Supreme Court. The government of Pakistan was inclined to show leniency towards his case on ‘humanitarian ground’ but could not do so due to the people of Pakistan’s demand for stern action against him. The case of released Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh from Pakistani jails uncovered the real face of Indian Government, RAW and Military Intelligence (MI). India had denied that Surjeet Singh, freed after serving three decades in Pakistani jails on espionage charges was a spy working for New Delhi. It is worth mentioning that Surjeet Singh had confessed before the Indian media that he was spying for India when he was arrested by Pakistani authorities in the 1980s. On the other hand, Indian agencies’ cruel treatment and torture have resulted in quite a few deaths of Pakistani prisoners. Most of the prisoners incarcerated in Indian and Pakistani jails are those who are involved in minor offences such as crossing the border unwittingly, staying with an expired passport, over-staying than the period allowed in the visa, or fishing in the territorial waters of the other country mistakenly.    

Ajmal Kasab, the lone surviving attacker of the November 2008 terror siege, was hanged till death at Pune’s Yerawada Jail in 2012 i.e. within 4 years of his arrest. After rejection of appeal first in the Indian Supreme Court and later rejection of mercy appeal by the President, it was a foregone conclusion that he would be hanged. But it never occurred that it would be done so soon. One would not know why the date and time of Ajmal Kasab’s hanging was kept as a secret from the media and the people at large; but his execution five days before the fourth anniversary of the Mumbai attacks could be a well thought-out plan by India’s ‘deep state security apparatus’ to unleash propaganda campaign against Pakistan’s ISI and describe Pakistan as a state that sponsors terrorism.

The other alleged mastermind of attack on Indian parliament, Mohammad Afzal Guru was sentenced to death by the trial court on 18th December 2002, and the sentence was upheld by the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court. Anyhow, he was hanged within 11 years of his arrest and verdict. One could compare between India and Pakistan as to who is more compassionate, and who executes the prisoners in a hurry without transparent court proceedings. Sarabjit Singh was a terrorist and spy, arrested by Pakistani officials in 1990. He was tried and convicted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for a series of bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 bystanders, in 1990. After the trials in Lahore High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, he was sentenced to death in 1991. Five of his mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and the President of Pakistan. 

Mohammad Jamil  

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