Lawyer Awais Sheikh talks about his book on Sarabjit Singh
It has been a long wait for an Indian incarcerated in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail on charges of espionage. Sarabjit Singh alias Manjit Singh is on death row since 1991 for his alleged involvement in the 1990 Lahore and Faisalabad serial blasts, a charge he denies. Awais Sheikh, counsel of Sarabjit has come up with a book Sarabjit Singh: A Case of Mistaken Identity to bring the various ‘facts’ of the case before the general public.
Published by Rajkamal Publications, the book was released by Justice Markendeya Katju, chairman, Press Council of India, in New Delhi recently.
Awais refers to the book as an attempt to divulge the ‘facts’ relating to the case of Sarabjit to the common people, particularly those of Pakistan, which “clearly prove his innocence”. “Sarabjit has been mistaken for Manjit and has been languishing in the jail for no fault of his,” he claimed. He chose India for publishing his book because in Pakistan, where his ‘effigies are burnt,’ no one would have agreed to publish it.
“This book has been written just to reveal the truth and it is not against a community, religion or country,” he points out. Addressing the weak language of the book as an attempt to keep the book simple and easy to read for the masses, Awais says that it is not a ‘novel’ that needs to be judged by the complexity of its language.
Awais plans to take this book to the administrative heads of the country. “I will present this book to President, Prime Minister and other high officials of the Pakistan Government and request them to take a humanitarian view of Sarabjit’s case,” he comments. “Government of Pakistan, though privately, is very keen on releasing Sarabjit but different fanatical elements are causing an impediment,” he adds. Awais nevertheless has a strong belief Sarabjit would be released before the term of the current government ends in March.
According to Awais, it is very unfortunate that the issue of prisoners doesn’t assume importance in the bilateral talks between the two countries. “There are many prisoners in both India and Pakistan who are not released even after completing their sentences. It is a gross violation of basic human rights,” he points out.
Awais says that peace between the two countries is the demand of time. “People on both sides of the border have aspirations and peace is an important pre-requisite for them to be fulfilled. Let’s hope for the best,” he emphasises. He believes that skirmishes along the LOC shouldn’t prove a deterrent to the ongoing peace progress and both countries should strive to achieve the goal of harmonious coexistence.