Pakistan Frees Kashmir Singh: Reaches India After 34 Years

Posted on March 4, 2008
Filed Under >Owais Mughal, Foreign Relations, Law & Justice, People
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Owais Mughal
Kashmir Singh An Indian national who was languishing in Pakistani jails for the past 34 years has been released on March 3, 2008. He was granted amnesty by the President of Pakistan. Amid a festive and emotional ceremony, he crossed the border into India today (March 4, 2008) and got reunited with his family. In my opinion this is a good humanitarian gesture by the Pakistani Government and should go a long way in upholding human rights and highlighting the plight of prisoners in both countries. Kashmir Singh‘s wife Pramjeet Kaur and their two sons received him at the Wagah border.

Kashmir SinghWe hope both countries ascertain the cases of more prisoners like him in their respective jails and those who are found languishing without trials for long time should be freed.
According to Dawn news of March 4, 2008:

Kashmir Singh was released from the Kot Lakhpat Central Jail on the orders of the President of Pakistan who granted him amnesty on an appeal of federal caretaker Minister for Human Rights Ansar Burni. According to the petition filed for his release by Mr Burni, he was arrested in 1973 on spying charges. He belongs to Hoshiarpur in Indian Punjab and has three children. Mr Singh will be handed over to the Indian authorities on Tuesday at the Wagah border. Mr Singh thanked the President and Mr Burni for his release and called for regular prisoner exchanges between India and Pakistan.

According to a news excerpt from Daily News

The minister Ansar Burni stated, “I request that Kashmir Singh who has already spent 34 long years in a death cell be released. We cannot give him two sentences, he has already spent 34 years behind the bars, and he should not be hanged but released to spend his remaining days with his family who he has not seen in all this long time. He is at present in Kot Lakhpat jail Lahore and waiting to see a free world soon.” This will also show to the people of India that our NGOs and we the Government of Pakistan are willing to release even those who they did not know about, Burney concluded.

Chronology of Events:

Kashmir Singh used to be a police constable in Amritsar. He was arrested in Pakistani city of Rawalpindi and remained detained in Pakistan since 1974. He was convicted and sentenced to death by the Court of Field General Court Martial, Commanding Officer 40 Field Regiment Artillery, Lahore Cantonment on April 8, 1977. The then President of Pakistan dismissed his mercy petition on March 14, 1978. He remained in the death cell for nearly 34 long years and in this time he never received a single visitor.

On March 3, 2008 Lahore High Court (LHC) Chief Justice disposed of a petition seeking release of Indian prisoner Kashmir Singh, as the federal government’s law officer informed the court that President of Pakistan had already accepted his (Singh) mercy petition.

References:

1. The Daily Dawn, Pakistan
2. The Daily News, Pakistan
3. The Daily Times, Pakistan
4. Outlook India
5. Hindustan Times, India
6. Express India
7. Calcutta News, India

Photo Credits: The Daily Dawn, Reuters and Associated Press

39 responses to “Pakistan Frees Kashmir Singh: Reaches India After 34 Years”

  1. Jamal says:

    Unfortunately Ansar Burney is that kind of a caretaker minister who is taking care of his own interests! Pakistan is in chaos because of these unpricipled and fake champions of democracy and human rights! Why does he not fight for thousands of Pakistanis who have been missing for many years and those who are in jails, are just rotting there?

  2. YLH says:

    And while the Spy on death row allocated by a COMPETENT court was let go… a cricket lover, Khalid Mahmood, arrived back in Pakistan in a body bag.

    Well done … track 2-diplomacy champs!

  3. Karim says:

    Whatever else happens, the fact is that Pakistan showed the biggness of heart here and let him go after all this time. That is good.

  4. Salima says:

    I think there is no point in criticising Mr Burni. Why should we criticize someone who is doing some good work even if it may seem not to be of any use to Pakistan at the moment.
    If he takes up more controversial issues, he would be killed either by the Al-Qaeeda fundamentalists or be put behind bars if he opposed Mushharaf. It would be foolish to lose his life like many others . It is important to remain alive and smartly fight the evil. I think that by doing deeds like release of Kashmir singh, he is earning respect for Pakistan at the international level which would pay in the long run.

  5. Pervaiz Munir Alvi says:

    Freed Indian admits he was a spy

    An Indian man released from a Pakistani prison on Monday after spending 35 years on death row has admitted that he was a spy.

    Kashmir Singh also criticized the Indian government which he said did nothing for him or his family while he was in jail.
    He said he would not give details of his detention in case it jeopardized other Indians in jail in Pakistan.

    He was sentenced to death in 1973, for spying in Pakistan.

    ‘Not a penny’
    “I did the duties assigned to me as a spy,” Mr Singh said on Friday, the Press Trust of India (PTI) reports.
    “After my arrest… successive (Indian) governments did nothing for me,” he told journalists in the city of Chandigarh. “The government after my arrest did not bother to spend a single penny for my family.”
    Mr Singh appeared reluctant to give many details about his imprisonment although he did say he had been chained up for 17 years of his detention.

    His release was spearheaded by Ansar Burney, a social worker and cabinet minister who tracks people lost in Pakistan’s jail system.

    India and Pakistan have jailed hundreds of each other’s soldiers and civilians during times of hostility.

    Pakistani officials said that while Mr Singh’s release was unconditional, they hoped it would lead to further prisoner exchanges.

    ‘Hell on earth’
    Ansar Burney discovered Mr Singh on a recent trip to a jail in Lahore and persuaded Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf to revoke his death sentence and order his release.
    Mr Singh was a former policeman who had become a trader in electronic goods.
    He was arrested in the city of Rawalpindi in 1973 and convicted of spying.
    Pakistan and India frequently arrest each other’s citizens, often accusing them of straying across the border – some are treated as spies.
    Mr Burney is currently the government’s caretaker minister for human rights.
    Mr Burney said last week that Mr Singh had been held in a condemned prisoner’s cell for most of the time since his conviction and had become mentally ill.
    He said that he was first informed about the case several years ago by members of the Indian community in London.
    But he was unable to locate Mr Singh, despite visiting more than 20 jails across the country in connection with his campaign for prison reforms and prisoners’ rights.
    The minister said Mr Singh had not received a single visitor or seen the open sky and, like other condemned prisoners, was locked in an overcrowded cell for more than 23 hours a day, in conditions which the minister described as “hell on Earth”.
    Story from BBC NEWS:
    Published: 2008/03/07 18:07:43 GMT

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