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India asks Pakistan to release Sarabjit

Last Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 14:59

New Delhi: India on Thursday asked Pakistan to take a humanitarian view and release Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national on death row following his conviction for alleged involvement in bomb attacks in that country in 1990.

External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in the Rajya Sabha that Sarabjit Singh has been sentenced to death on September 15, 1991 on allegations that he was involved in three bomb blasts in Lahore and one in Multan.

"It is not our case that he was involved (in those blasts)," he said during Question Hour. "We don`t share that (Pakistan`s view of his involvement in the blasts)."

India has taken up the matter with government of Pakistan "very seriously," he said.

With Sarabjit`s mercy petition pending before the Pakistan President, he said, "it is necessary for them to take a humanitarian view" of the petition. The issue was being pursued "with all diligence at our command," he added.

"The government of India will do everything in its power to get the Indian national in Pakistan`s custody released," he said.

The government has given an ex-gratia of Rs 3 lakh to the next of kin of each of the persons in detention in Pakistan.

Krishna said there are 558 Indian nationals in custody in Pakistan. Out of them, 232 are civilian prisoners, 252 fishermen and 74 missing defence personnel. The missing defence personnel include 54 Prisoners of War since 1971.

"The government of Pakistan has acknowledged the presence of only 72 Indian civilian prisoners and 237 fishermen lodged in Pakistani jails. Pakistan does not acknowledge the presence of any Missing Defence Personnel in its custody," he said.

Krishna said New Delhi has been consistently taking up with Islamabad the issue concerning all Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails.

He said Pakistan released 454 Indian fishermen and 19 Indian civilian prisoners in 2010. So far this year, Pakistan has released 103 Indian fishermen and 12 civilian prisoners.

An India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners was formed in 2008 to make recommendations to the two government on release of prisoners, he said, adding the committee has met four times so far.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, August 11, 2011 - 14:59

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