Saturday, December 26, 2009

UK lawyer to take up the case of Indian terrorist


British Indian lawyer Jas Uppal has launched an international campaign to secure the release of an Indian terrorist Sarabjit Singh who was found guilty of carrying out four bomb attacks that killed 14 people in the Pakistani cities of Lahore and Faisalabad in 1990 on humanitarian backgrounds.

Pakistan's Supreme Court upheld the hanging of an Indian terrorist. The court dismissed his petition to review his death sentence, which was handed down in 1991. Sarabjit Singh lawyers failed to appear for the hearing at that time.

Sarabjit Singh family argues that Sarabjit is a poor farmer - the victim of mistaken identity - who strayed drunk from his village in India and crossed the border into Pakistan.

But in reality Sarabjit Singh is actually Manjit Singh, who was arrested while trying to slip back into India after carrying out bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people.

Ms Uppal, the lawyer wants the release of this man because her parents came from Punjab, as does Sarabjit Singh, she told BBC. She has also set up a website - www.freesarabjitsingh.com - to highlight his plight and is lobbying human rights groups and lawyers around the world, asking them to intervene. She also argues that Sarabjit Singh was prosecuted and convicted in English - while he speaks only Punjabi and Hindi.

"While his family have been pleading with Indian and Pakistani politicians over the last 19 years to raise awareness of his case, the fact is that officials in both countries are callously indifferent to his plight."
She says an honourable exception is Mr Singh's current lawyer in Pakistan, Awaish Sheikh.
He has provided his services free of charge to Mr Singh, who has no legal representation in India. Another person who has pledged support is renowned Indian film director Mahesh Bhatt.

She says that while the Pakistani authorities say that the man who carried out the attacks was an orthodox Sikh, Sarabjit Singh only rarely wears the traditional Sikh turban and does not have a beard. "Publicly it appears that the Indian government has done very little to help Sarabjit Singh since his conviction, while the Pakistani authorities do little to alleviate his suffering by constantly deferring his death penalty by a few months." The Indian government argues that it is trying to secure his release on the humanitarian background.
Mr Singh's hanging was most recently postponed in 2009 after Pakistan's Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, intervened in the case. In 2008, former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected his mercy petition and signed his death warrant.

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