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Pak visa hope for Sarabjit sister

Chandigarh, Dec. 5: The sister of Sarabjit Singh, a death-row convict in a Lahore jail, will apply for a visa to Pakistan.

Dalbir Kaur said she has been “instructed” to file the application by Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri, whom she met during his visit to India last month.

“Kasuri asked me to apply for a visa. He instructed senior officials at the Pakistan embassy to consider my case. I may apply next week,” Dalbir said over the phone from her home in Bikhiwind, near Amritsar.

Sarabjit was charged with spying for the Research and Analysis Wing, but Dalbir says he “strayed into Pakistan” on the night of August 28, 1990, after being drunk.

Arrested two days later, Sarabjit — charged as Manjeet Singh — was alleged to have carried out bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed 14 people and wounded 89.

“The death sentence is well deserved and he (Sarabjit alias Manjeet) did not warrant any leniency,” said the 27-page verdict handed by Justice Mohammad Nawaz Abbasi on September 14, 2005.

Sarabjit’s review petitions in three of the four cases against him in Pakistan’s Supreme Court have been turned down. His family has appealed for mercy to President Pervez Musharraf.

Dalbir was denied a visa in 2005, but no reasons were cited. Another application was rejected on “security reasons” and fears that her presence in Pakistan could trigger “riots”.

“But I am very hopeful now. My meeting with Kasuri has raised hopes. This is the first time that any Pakistani minister or official has offered to help in a manner not witnessed earlier,” Dalbir said.

Sarabjit’s family has appealed to Pakistani authorities to provide him with medical care.

“He is suffering from an eye ailment and allergy. He is not being allowed to mix with other inmates of the jail. It is only during a couple of festivals that he is allowed to move out of his cell. With winter setting in, I have requested foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee to send officials from the Indian embassy to meet him and ensure that he is provided with the basic amenities, apart from making efforts to seek his release,” Dalbir said.

The family has not heard from Sarabjit in the past few months. Dalbir said she had requested Kasuri to ensure that jail authorities allow Sarabjit to write letters to his family back home regularly.

In August, Dalbir had tried to commit suicide. Relatives said she had received a letter from Sarabjit saying jail authorities were torturing him, even denying him food.

According to Baldev, Dalbir’s husband, calls from Sarabjit’s lawyer in Pakistan, Abdul Hameed Rana, for more money to contest the case, made matters worse. “We have paid him Rs 2.75 lakh. He is demanding another Rs 5 lakh and is threatening to quit the case if the money is not sent to him,” Baldev said.

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