Mumbai: Veteran Bollywood actor Raza Murad, who has just returned from Amritsar, has decided to launch a campaign to rescue Sarabjit Singh, who has been sentenced to death in Pakistan for terrorism.
Sarabjit has been in Pakistan jails for more than 20 years and has been convicted of staging four bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan in 1990 that claimed 14 lives.
Raza has now decided to launch a `Sarbajit Bachao` campaign all the way to the Indian and Pakistan parliaments. For this, he will rope in the help of all the Punjabis in the entertainment industry.
"We all know about Sarabjit`s tragic case. He has languished in a Lahore prison for 21 years now. Even if he has done anything wrong, as the Pakistani government claims, his punishment has far exceeded the misdeed. It`s time we woke up in one voice to ask for Sarabjit to be returned to India," said Raza.
The campaign was prompted by a visit to Amritsar last week.
"I was at the Harminder Sahib in Amritsar on Saturday. Sarabjit`s family saw me on television and sought me out through a friend in Amritsar...It`s one thing to read about someone`s plight. But to see Sarabit`s family`s distress first-hand was a heartrending experience, and one that I cannot bring myself to put aside and move on with life. The suffering that Sarabjit`s wife Sukhprit Kaur and his two daughters have undergone shook me to the core.
"Sarabjit`s daughter Poonam told me that she once went across border with food for her father in prison. But it took three days for her to get permission to visit her father in jail. The food was spoilt by then. I was devastated by the daughter`s grief. If as an actor I am not able to use my voice for this cause, then I am afraid my life is not worth much," he said.
Raza has a definite plan.
"I have formulated several levels of protest... the first is to get an active participation of the entire Punjab entertainment industry. I`m also framing letters to the Indian prime minister and the president. Letters to the Pakistan`s prime minister and president are being sent through the Pakistani embassy, as too our memorandum of protest through the Ministry of External Affairs."
A candlelight protest is being planned by Raza at the India-Pakistan border.
"I don`t know what made Sarabjit`s family reach out to me. But they have placed their trust in me to get him back... Maybe they`re over-estimating my influence. But I am going to make a do-or-die effort for Sarabjit`s release. I want my voice to be heard from the governments on both sides of the border."