Pak frees Indian prisoner Gopal Dass

Indian national Gopal Dass was arrested on spying charges. He spent 27 years in the Lahore Jail.

Updated: Apr 08, 2011, 09:45 AM IST

Lahore/Attari: Touching the soil of the country after 27 years, Indian national Gopal Dass
on Thursday came home to an emotional welcome by his elder brother and sister who had last seen him as a young man.

52-year-old Dass was set free after Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari remitted his sentence on humanitarian grounds following an appeal by the Indian Supreme Court.

Dass crossed over to the Indian side of the border from Pakistan at the Joint Check Post here after being freed by the authorities in the neighbouring country.

As soon as he entered India, he bowed his head on the soil and kissed it as tears welled up in his eyes.

Dass` family members, including his brother Anand Vir, two sisters and niece Navjot besides, a dozen people from Bhaini Mian Khan village of Gurdaspur district of Punjab were here to receive him.

Gopal hugged all his family members as they broke down in tears.

Lamenting that he had lost the "golden period of youth behind the bars in Pakistan, he asked the Indian government why it was sitting silent for the last 27 years.

"I have a grudge against the Indian leadership who has never bothered about Indian prisoners rotting in prisons in Pakistan for the last many years.

"32 Indian nationals, who have completed their jail term, are still languishing due of lack of initiative on the part of the Indian government," he claimed.

Thanking the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan for releasing him, Dass said he was also thankful to the Supreme Court of India for his release but said the role of Indian leadership was "disgusting".

He claimed that seven such Indian prisoners who had already completed their sentence died due to ill health.

Moreover, nearly one dozen Indian nationals have almost lost their senses.

Dass had crossed over to Pakistan inadvertently in 1984 and was arrested by Pakistani Rangers on charges of spying.

He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was set to be released by the end of this year.

Struggling hard to control his tears, Dass` elder brother Anand Vir, said, "It was the voice of the Supreme Court judge which came out from the deepest core of his heart and heard by Almighty, which ultimately fell in the ears of Prime Minister and President of Pakistan and his brother`s
release matured.

Anand said that he did not have any hope from the Indian leadership as all their requests went unheard but the request at the door of God was heard.