Friday 24 May 2013
Saturday 4 May 2013
I appeal to the Indian Government to forthwith send back Sanaullah, a Pakistani prisoner who was attacked in a Jammu jail and is said to be in coma, to Pakistan, as requested by the Pakistan Government. This will be a humanitarian act.
I also appeal to the Governments of India and Pakistan to immediately set up committees to review cases of all prisoners in the other country, and to set up mechanisms for early release of those convicted on alleged 'confessions' or insufficient or suspicious evidence. Many of such persons have been convicted on alleged 'confession'. Everyone knows how 'confessions' are obtained in our countries (by third degree methods).
Hence reliance on these for conviction is totally unsafe.
Unfortunately many people regard nationals of the other country with a lot of prejudices, and it is time that these prejudices are removed, otherwise great injustice can be caused, as in the cases of Dr. Khalil Chishty and Sarabjit Singh.
Friday 3 May 2013
Sarabjit Singh was held guilty by the Pakistan Courts in connection with the 1990 Lahore bomb blast which killed 14 people, and sentenced to death. He was on death row in a Pakistan jail for 22 years.
I carefully studied the evidence in his case, and found it extremely weak. The main prosecution witness, Shaukat Salim, later retracted his statement which he had earlier given in Court, and said it was given under police pressure. The other evidence against Sarabjit was his alleged 'confession', but we all know how 'confessions' are obtained in our countries (by third degree methods).
I therefore sent 4 letters to the Pakistan President and Prime Minister mentioning all this and requesting that he be released and sent back to India. The first letter was sent through the then Pakistan High Commissioner to India, Mr. Shahid Malik, the second through Dr. Khalil Chishty (for whose release also I had made many efforts), the third through Mr. Ansar Burney, former Pakistan Minister and social activist, and the fourth through someone else.
I also mentioned in my letters that apart from the merits of the case, Sarabjit had been on death row, not ordinary confinement, in jail, for over 21 years, with a damocles sword constantly hanging over his head, and this would make anyone go mad. I therefore pleaded that mercy should be shown to him and he be set free (some of my letters to the Pakistan President and Prime Minister are on my blog justicekatju.blogspot.in). I quoted from Portia's speech in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice that justice should be tempered with mercy.
There was no acknowledgement to any of these letters.
Now that Sarabjit is dead I can only express my deep sorrow. In my view both Dr. Khalil Chishty and Sarabjit were victims of the prejudiced mindset of most people on both sides of the border, most Indians regarding Pakistanis as devils, and most Pakistanis regarding Indians as devils (when the truth is, as I have been repeatedly saying, 99% people of all countries and communities are good, though they are often befooled by some wicked people).
The only difference between the cases of Dr. Chishty and Sarabjit is that while Dr. Chishty is alive ( though after undergoing 20 years hardship ) and back home in Karachi (I often speak to him on telephone), Sarabjit is dead.
This again reinforces my belief that only reunification of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh under a strong, secular, modern minded government, which does not tolerate religious extremism, whether Hindu or Muslim, can bring peace and prosperity in our sub-continent