The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh to dial Pervez on ‘spy’
- Last hope

New Delhi/Islamabad, Aug. 23: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today assured a team of Punjab lawmakers he would speak to Pervez Musharraf about the Indian given death for allegedly spying and setting off a train of blasts in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court had last week upheld the verdict of an anti-terror court convicting Sarabjit Singh of being an agent of the Research and Analysis Wing and having a hand in five bombings in Pakistan’s Punjab.

“The Prime Minister assured us he will speak to Pakistan President Musharraf and that the government will do all it can to save the life of Sarabjit Singh,” Punjab PCC chief Shamsher Singh Dullo said after a meeting with Singh.

“We urged the Prime Minister to do everything possible to save an innocent man. Why should he be punished for mistaken identity'”

Sarabjit’s family, which has threatened to commit mass suicide if he is hanged, has said he had nothing to do with RAW and had been drunk when he was caught across the LoC in August 1990. They have denied he is Manjeet Singh, the man Pakistan has put on death row.

Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur and her husband Baldev Singh ' who stay in Bhikiwindi village near Amritsar ' today met foreign minister K. Natwar Singh and urged him to take up the matter with Pakistan.

“It is a case of mistaken identity. The case is against some Manjeet Singh. My brother is innocent and I want the government to talk to Musharraf to save him,” Dalbir told newsmen.

She was accompanied by Punjab MPs Navjot Singh Sidhu, Avinash Rai Khanna, Ratan Singh Ajnala and S.S. Dhingra.

Dalbir also spoke to Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri who is believed to have told her only Musharraf can grant Sarabjit mercy.

Asked by a TV channel if Sarabjit would get to live, Kasuri said: “Frankly, when an appeal for clemency is made to the President, only then we would know.”

But he ruled out the case being one of mistaken identity. He said the case had been in court for 15 years but Sarabjit’s lawyer had never raised such an argument.

Sarabjit was keeping “good health” in jail, Kasuri added.

Pakistan’s foreign office confirmed it had received a formal request from the Indian government, seeking consular access to Sarabjit.

“Received from the Indian high commission in Islamabad today, the request is being processed,” foreign ministry spokesman Naeem Khan said in Islamabad.

Khan, too, challenged the contention that Sarabjit had been mistakenly convicted. He said the entire evidence had been carefully examined before the Supreme Court upheld the death sentence.

“His actual name was Sarabjit while he used Manjeet Singh as an alias while operating in Pakistan,” he said, adding it would be absolutely wrong to imply Sarabjit was “innocent and a victim of India-Pakistan animosity”.

“The government will take a decision on the request after consulting concerned departments and ministries, including the interior ministry,” the spokesman said.

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