Misled by reports of the imminent release of Sarabjit Singh from jail in Pakistan, his village on the border erupted in joy on Tuesday. His family called it a “relieving” moment and an act of kindness from President Asif Ali Zardari.
Emotional scenes were witnessed at the house of the 49-year-old Sarabjit in Bikhiwind, where hundreds of villagers gathered after the so-called news of commutation of his death sentence into life imprisonment by Mr. Zardari broke out. People thronged their house with sweets and good wishes.
“It is relieving news for me from Pakistan, which did a lot for Indians and every Indian will always remember this act of kindness of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari,” said Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, her eyes turning moist.
Ms. Kaur said she expected the release of her brother in a couple of days and his crossing over to India through the land transit route of Attari/Wagah border.
Sarabjit’s two daughters Swapandeep Kaur and Poonam couldn’t control their emotions and broke down.
His wife Sukhpreet said: “...for me it is a kind of new birth since my two daughters will get their father back from the Pakistan prison where there was no hope of repatriation to India.”
In Islamabad, Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar later clarified that the person concerned was not Sarabjit Singh but Surjeet Singh, son of Sucha Singh. His death sentence was commuted in 1989 by then President, Ghulam Ishaq Khan, on the advice of the Prime Minister of the day, Benazir Bhutto.