Protests continue over clemency for Pak death row inmate Sarabjit Singh

Meerut, Apr 19: Sarabjit SinghA voluntary organisation and several other people staged a demonstration in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, seeking clemency for Sarabjit Singh, the Indian on death row in Pakistan.

Activists held placards seeking forgiveness for Sarabjit and shouted slogans for his early release.

"He should be released soon. His daughters have also given a warning that they will commit suicide if Sarabjit is hanged. So for him and his daughters, we want the Indian Government to release him as early as possible," said Disha, one of the protestors.

Blindfolded girls also raised slogans during the protest march, suggesting that New Delhi needed to open its eyes.

"If Pakistan forgives Sarabjit Singh, then relations between India and Pakistan will improve. We are demanding that the Indian Government to take steps to release him. We also hope the Prime Minister of the new government in Pakistan will release him in order to improve relations with India," said Dinesh Talwar, another protestor.

On Friday, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said the Government has made a fresh appeal to the Pakistan Government to grant clemency to Sarabjit Singh, even as his execution date (April 30) is approaching.

Mukherjee hoped mercy would be shown to Sarabjit who has been in a Pakistani jail since 1990.

According to official sources in Islamabad, the Indian Government had taken up Sarabjit's case with the new coalition government shortly after it assumed office last month.

The Indian Government is now hopeful that Sarabjit will be shown clemency.

To prove that Sarabjit's case was a case of mistaken identity, his family gave former Pakistan Human Rights Minister Ansar Burney a police report wherein he was reported as missing.

Sarabjit's family members are expected to visit Pakistan on Sunday to personally appeal to the Pakistani leadership to grant him clemency.

President Pervez Musharraf had earlier rejected Sarabjit's appeal for clemency.

On a recent visit to India, Burney had rekindled hopes of Sarabjit's release, saying he could have been "a victim of mistaken identity".

Burney, who had played a significant role in the release of another Indian, Kashmir Singh, has urged the new Pakistan Government to consider converting Sarabjit's death sentence into life imprisonment on humanitarian grounds, as he has spent more time than a life sentence on death row in Pakistan.

Sarabjit has been on death row since the Pakistan's Supreme Court rejected his petition for mercy in March 2006. He has been accused of having played a major role in serial blasts across Pakistan, which claimed at least 14 lives in 1991.

Earlier, he was to be hanged on April 1, but the hanging was put off till April 30 after India appealed to the Pakistan Government not to go ahead with the hanging. (ANI)