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News18 » India
2-min read

Hanging Sarabjit won't help things, India to Pak

Union Minister of State for External Affairs says India has 'limited options' in this case.

News18 |

Updated:March 17, 2008, 2:17 PM IST
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Hanging Sarabjit won't help things, India to Pak
Union Minister of State for External Affairs says India has 'limited options' in this case.

Islamabad: India has indicated to Pakistan that executing its national Sarabjit Singh, on death row for his alleged involvement in 1990 bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan, is not the 'best way to deal' with the issue and sought consular access to the condemned prisoner.

A request for consular access to Sarabjit, who officials here said will be hanged on April 1, has been sent to Pakistani authorities, Indian High Commission sources said.

It had been indicated to them that hanging him "might not be the best way to deal with the situation in the prevailing circumstances," the sources said.

Top officials at Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail, including its Superintendent Javed Latif, said on Sunday that they had received the death warrant for Sarabjit, who has been languishing in the prison for the last 17 years, and he would be executed on April 1.

Sarabjit's lawyer Rana Abdul Hamid says that there is 'no legal option' left to save his client. Sarabjit could be saved only if President Pervez Musharraf granted him a pardon or if there was some 'extraordinary understanding' between the Indian and Pakistani governments, Hamid said.

A mercy petition of Sarabjit, who Pakistan claims is Manjit Singh, was rejected by Musharraf on March 3. Indian authorities are engaged in efforts to convince their Pakistani counterparts to resolve the matter without executing Sarabjit, the official sources said.

Officials from the Indian High Commission were last granted consular access to Sarabjit in 2005.

In New Delhi, Union Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma said India has 'limited options' in this case and can only request the Pakistan government to show some leniency towards Singh.

"In the Sarabjit Singh case, we had earlier also conveyed the strong sentiments of our people and requested for some clemency and reprieve to him. We hope that considering humanitarian aspects, some leniency would be shown to him (Singh)," he said on the sidelines of a function.

"We have limited options and the Government of India has been conscious of the sentiments of the people and had earlier also conveyed the same to Pakistan Government," he said.

Asked whether the government had any official information on this issue from the Pakistan government, the minister said, "As per my knowledge, I came to know about the matter only through the media. Formally, the government has no information about it."

"...It is a very sensitive issue. We can only request the Pakistan Government to show some leniency," he said. "It has been our endeavour to ensure that those prisoners in both the countries who have completed their sentences are released for which a committee has been set up," he said.

In the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal said Kashmir Singh’s statement that he had been a spy for India would weaken India's case for the release of Sarabjit. Kashmir had later denied having made that statement and had blamed media for distorting facts.

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