1963 or 1964
Bhikhiwind, Punjab, India
|Died||2 May 2013 (aged 49)
Jinnah Hospital, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Cause of death
|Murder by jail inmates in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, Pakistan|
|Criminal status||Under review by PMRC|
|Conviction(s)||Espionage and terrorism|
Sarabjit Singh (also spelled Sarabjeet Singh; Punjabi: ਸਰਬਜੀਤ ਸਿੰਘ; 1963 or 1964 – 2 May 2013) (alleged to be Manjit Singh by Pakistan) was an Indian national convicted of terrorism and spying by a Pakistani court. He was tried and convicted by the Supreme Court of Pakistan for a series of bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 bystanders in 1990. Sarabjit claimed he was a farmer who strayed into Pakistan from his village located on the border, three months after the bombings. According to unconfirmed Indian sources, Singh had been a spy for the Indian Research and Analysis Wing intelligence agency and had been working undercover in Pakistan.
After a brief trial in the Lahore High Court (later directed to the Supreme Court), he was condemned and sentenced to death in 1991, but the sentence was repeatedly postponed by the Government of Pakistan.
- 1 Background and family
- 2 Arrest and prosecution
- 3 After conviction
- 4 Death
- 5 Aftermath
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Background and family
Singh was from Bhikhiwind, located along the Indo-Pakistani border in the Tarn Taran district of Punjab, India. He was fond of wrestling and taking care of rare pigeons. He worked as a farmer on other's fields. He was married to Sukhpreet Kaur and had two daughters Swapandeep and Poonam Kaur. His sister, Dalbir Kaur, working towards his release beginning in 1991.
However, another woman named Baljinder Kaur disputed Dalbir's relation to Singh and claimed to be Singh's real sister. According to Baljinder, Singh was the third eldest of ten siblings and Dalbir was not their sister, but had happened to know Singh since 1989; "Dalbir Kaur assured us she had right links and would struggle for the release of Sarabjit on some conditions. We trusted her and let her pursue the matter, only to be pushed out of the picture." Dalbir added that she had nothing to prove her relation with Singh except offering to undergo a DNA test. She also claimed that Singh's real brothers, Charanjit and Harbhajan, were not allowed to light his pyre at his funeral and were "pushed back" by people at the cremation ground. Commenting further on Dalbir, she added: "People have been coming to the fore (after Singh's death) for cheap publicity. They were nowhere when I alone struggled for his release."
Arrest and prosecution
Singh was caught on an unmarked Indo-Pakistani border area in Pakistan and arrested by the Pakistan Rangers near Kasur. Singh and his supporters claimed that the arrest was a case of mistaken identity and that he was only a poor farmer who was drunk and had strayed over the border. His sister said that the family launched a search but could not find any clue to his whereabouts for nine months. After a year they received a letter from Singh, informing them that he had been arrested in Pakistan as Manjit Singh, as he had no identification papers and had been charged by the Lahore police in the bombings. He was convicted of spying and carrying out the bombings and was given the death penalty.
Some sources say that he was initially arrested on charges of illegally crossing the India-Pakistan border. But after eight days, the Pakistani police charged him with involvement in the 1990 terror blasts at Faisalabad and Lahore. The authorities claimed that he was 'Manjit Singh' and had been responsible for the four blasts which killed 14 people, and had been arrested while returning to India after carrying out the bombings. He was accused of working for the Indian Intelligence Service. He subsequently confessed on camera to the bombings.
In 1991 Singh was given the death sentence under Pakistan's Army Act. His sentence was upheld by the High Court and later by the Pakistan Supreme Court. The Supreme Court dismissed a petition to review his death sentence in March 2006 as Singh's lawyers failed to appear for the hearing. Singh said that his appeal had been dismissed by the Pakistan Supreme Court only because of lack of interest by his former lawyer.
Issues with prosecution
Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney claimed that none of the four First Information Reports filed with regard to the bombings contained Singh's name nor his description and that Singh had been arrested on the night of 30 August 1990 at the Kasur border for illegally crossing the Indo-Pakistani border. Eight days after, the police implicated him in the terrorist bombings. Burney also pointed out that the same magistrate had recorded the witness statements in all the four bombings, of which one had taken place at Faisalabad and the remaining three at Lahore, although the police investigations involved four different police stations and two different districts. He said four different magistrates should have recorded the statements. None of the statements recorded in front of the magistrate were taken under oath. Singh had been paraded before the witnesses in the absence of the magistrate, and the police had informed the witnesses that he was the bomber. This was confirmed by Salim's testimony.
- His identity was never verified or proved in court and no forensic evidence was provided at his trial to link him to the bomb attacks.
- The trial was conducted in English, which Singh does not speak or understand, and no interpreter was provided.
- There were allegations that he was tortured in custody and forced to confess.
- The trial was "fast-tracked".
- The main witness repeatedly changed his version of events.
On 26 April 2008, the key witness Shaukat Salim retracted his statement during an interview with journalists. Salim's father and other relatives had been killed in the bombing. In court Salim testified that Singh had planted the bomb but later said that he made that statement under pressure from the police. Singh's lawyer, Abdul Rana Hamid, said that Salim's statements had no legal standing as they were never recorded in court.
On 26 June 2012, both Pakistani and international media reported President Asif Ali Zardari signed a document sent by the interior ministry of Pakistan commuting Singh's death sentence to life in prison. A life sentence in Pakistan generally lasts 14 years. Singh, having spent 22 years in jail, was therefore to be released. The news of his pardon and imminent release initiated celebrations in his hometown. The Indian foreign minister also issued a statement of appreciation to Islamabad for the gesture.
This drew a storm of condemnation from Islamic groups Jamaat-e-Islami and Jamaat-ud-Da’wah. Later that day, after media agencies in both Pakistan and India had reported on a commuted sentence and pending release for Singh, the Pakistani government announced that the name of the prisoner to be released would be Surjeet Singh, not Sarabjit Singh.
Five hours later the Pakistani government issued a statement denying the reports and holding the media responsible for the confusion. They announced that the release order had been for another prisoner, Surjeet Singh, who was pardoned in 1989. Sarabjit's family condemned the incident as a "cruel joke".
Singh filed a new mercy appeal to the President of Pakistan on the 65th independence day of that country.
Efforts for release
In March 2008, Singh's family went to Pakistan for his scheduled execution. They met several prominent Pakistani politicians, including former Prime minister Nawaz Sharif to appeal for his release. Sharif said, "After seeing the plight of the members of Sarabjit's family who have come to Pakistan, any person can feel the pain they are going through." However, Sharif added that he should be released on the condition that India would send him back to Pakistan if further evidence was found against him.
The Indian External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh took up Sarabjit Singh's case with the Pakistan High Commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan and urged him to convey Delhi's hope that Islamabad would treat the matter as a humanitarian issue.
After his conviction in 1991, several mercy petitions were filed by Singh's lawyers. The fifth petition was filed on 28 May 2012 along with 100,000 signatures collected from India. None of the mercy petitions were granted.
Free Sarabjit campaign
In 2009 British lawyer Jas Uppal started an online campaign "freesarabjitsingh.com" to highlight the case and request human rights groups to intervene on his behalf. Awais Sheikh, Singh's Pakistani lawyer, supported the campaign and provided his services free of charge.
Bollywood actor and activist Raza Murad also campaigned for his release. As of June 2012, he had collected 138,226 signatures in support of Singh's release. After the Pakistani government's reversal regarding his release in June 2012, Murad intensified his 'Free Sarabjit' campaign.
Conversion to Islam
According to Surjeet Singh, who upon reaching India confessed that he had been a spy, Sarabjit and another Indian detainee, Kirpal, had converted to Islam in the hope of getting "concessions" from jail authorities. "Sarabjit is known as Sarfaraz while Kirpal's Muslim name was Mohammad Deen. They embraced Islam for concessions from jail authorities and from the Pakistan government, but it didn’t happen,” he said. The claim of Sarabjit's conversion was denied by Sarabjit's sister, who insisted: "This is not true at all. Sarabjit was a Gursikh, is a Gursikh and will remain a Gursikh. He has kept photos of Sikh gurus in jail and a Sikh religious book. He regularly recites from that book."
Singh was attacked on 26 April 2013 at about 4:30 pm in the Central Jail Lahore (Kot Lakhpat jail), allegedly by other prisoners, with bricks, sharp metal sheets, iron rods and blades. He was admitted to Jinnah Hospital, Lahore in critical condition with severe head injuries, in a coma, with a broken backbone. He was placed on a ventilator. The exact circumstances of the attack and the number of attackers have been differently reported. Some sources have indicated that there were six assailants whereas others have indicated two. Some indicated that he was assaulted in his cell; others indicated that the attack took place when he was brought out of his cell for an hour-long break. According to his sister, the attack on Singh was pre-planned and the jail authorities were involved. His wife, sister and two daughters were allowed to visit him in the hospital.
Singh had been threatened after Afzal Guru was executed in India in February 2013 over his role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case. Some sources had indicated that the attack was planned after Guru's execution. The Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, termed the attack as "very sad". On 29 April 2013, India appealed to Pakistan to release Sarabjit Singh on humanitarian grounds or at least allow him to be provided medical treatment in India, but these were repeatedly rejected by Pakistan. Appeals by lawyers were also filed with the Supreme Court of Pakistan to send Singh for medical treatment to the UK or outside Pakistan to save his life.
On 1 May 2013 he was declared brain dead by doctors at Jinnah Hospital, but Pakistani authorities refused to give a statement. His sister and family returned to India. His sister said that the doctors attending to his brother were not being honest with them and she suspected foul play. She also remarked to having seen ink on his left thumb and that the Pakistani doctors had been evading questions.
On 2 May 2013, he was reported to have died at 12:45 am local time in Lahore, when he was removed from the ventilator support after his condition worsened towards the middle of the night. His body was brought to India by a special aircraft the same evening. Indian doctors claimed that the second postmortem revealed that vital organs were missing from his body. Autopsy also revealed that his skull was broken into two pieces. They were, however, waiting for the report of the first postmortem conducted in Pakistan.
Attack on Pakistani prisoner
Following the attack in prison and subsequent death of Singh, a Pakistani prisoner serving a life sentence in Jammu jail was attacked on 3 May 2013, allegedly by another convict, causing serious head injuries. The security of Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails was tightened. The Pakistani prisoner, Sanaullah Ranjay, was hospitalised in Chandigarh and died later due to multiple organ failure.
- "Obituary: Sarabjit Singh". BBC News. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Sarabjit Singh dead". Mumbaivoice.com. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "For Pakistan, Sarabjit was always Manjit". 3 May 2013, 18:57:07. indiatvnews.com. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- News Desk Pakistan (2 May 2013 Last updated at). "Sarabjit Singh: Indian 'spy' dies after Pakistan attack". BBC Pakistan Department. Retrieved 2 May 2013. "Pakistan says his real name was Manjit Singh..BBC Quoted" Check date values in:
- Web Editiion (29 June 2012 – Updated 1148 PKT). "Sarabjit Singh is a terrorist: Surjeet". The News International 2012. Retrieved 2 May 2013. "According to the testament of his fellow spy operatives, Surjeet Singh, confirming that Sarabjit Singh is a terrorist and terrorists are neither released by India nor Pakistan...." Check date values in:
- staff (2 May 2013). "Sarabjit Singh, how a terrorist becomes a hero". Voice of Journalist. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Sarabjit Singh: Indian 'spy' dies after Pakistan attack". BBC News. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Magnier, Mark (28 June 2012). "Pakistan prisoner release confusion dashes Indian family's hopes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Hanging of Indian 'spy' deferred". BBC News. 29 April 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Ahuja, Rajesh (5 May 2013). "Sarabjit Singh was a R&AW agent in Pakistan: source". Hindustan Times. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- "Sarabjit Singh was a RAW agent: Indian report". The Express Tribune. 6 May 2013. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- staff. "Last rites for India's 'spy' Sarabjit Singh who never came home". web news. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Big B, Sonakshi Sinha in Biopic of Indian Prisoner Sarabjit Singh". Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- "Sarabjit's family meets Krishna". The Times of India. 28 June 2012. Retrieved 28 June 2012.
- "Bhikiwind plunges into sorrow". The Tribune. 3 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Sister visits condemned Indian Sarabjit in Lahore jail". BBC News. 16 June 2011. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Jolly, Asit (2 May 2013). "Dalbir Kaur, whose fight for her brother Sarabjit Singh, ended with tears". India Today. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "I am Sarabjit's real sister, says Ludhiana woman". Hindustan Times. 9 July 2013. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
- "Sarabjit Singh's body reaches Amritsar, protests held across India". CNN-IBN. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Sarabjit case: Key witness retracts statement". CNN IBN. 27 April 2008. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Spy Surjeet Singh says Sarabjit is a ‘terrorist’
- Lawyer highlights flaws in Sarabjit’s trial
- "EXCLUSIVE: Sarabjit's letter exposes Pakistan and its lies". Dainik Bhaskar. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Rattu arrest boosts hopes for Sarabjit's release". The Hindu. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "New twist in Sarabjit Singh case with arrest of 'fraudster'". India Today. 17 December 2010. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Sarabjit Singh gets Pakistan President Zardari's pardon, to walk free". 26 June 2012.
- "UK lawyer takes up case of condemned Indian". BBC News. 26 December 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- "Sarabjit files fresh plea, seeks mercy on Pak I-day". 13 July 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- "Sarabjit's lawyer highlights flaws in his trial". 7 July 2012.
- Re: Shaukat Salim – a key witness in the trial of Sarabjit Singh on YouTube
- Sarabjit Singh – proof of his innocence on YouTube
- Agencies, various others (2 May 2013). "Sarabjit dies at Lahore's Jinnah hospital". Dawn News Channel. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- PTI (26 Jun 2012). "Sarabjit Singh gets Pakistan President Zardari's pardon, to walk free". The Times of India. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Sarabjit's sentence commuted, may return home soon". The Hindu. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- Dasgupta, Sabyasachi (8 September 2012). "Sarabjit Singh's case will be considered, says Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari". New Delhi Television Limited. Retrieved 4 May 2013.
- "Surjeet being released, not Sarabjit: Zardari's spokesman". The Times of India. 26 June 2012. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- "India in new Sarabjit Singh death row release call". BBC News. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- "It is a deliberate and cruel joke: Sarabjit Singh's wife". The Times of India. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 27 June 2012.
- "Sarabjit files fresh appeal for mercy to Zardari". 13 July 2012.
- "Salman Khan seeks support of Pak people for Sarabjit's release". The Indian Express. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Salman Khan launches online petition for Sarabjit's release". Hindustan Times. 30 June 2012. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- "Free Sarabjit Singh online campaign". Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- "Raza Murad to intensify his 'Free Sarabjit' campaign". The Times of India. 3 July 2012. Retrieved 5 July 2012.
- No pardon for Sarabjit, say Pak students
- Pakistan student protests
- Sarabjit converted to Islam, has a Muslim name Sarfaraz: Surjeet
- "slamabad deeply assessing Sarabjit’s fate". The Nation. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Indian spy Sarabjit's family arrive in Pakistan". The Nation. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Sarabjit critical after attack in jail". The Nation. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Family of Indian spy Sarabjit Singh visit him in hospital". BBC News. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Sarabjit Singh attacked: Pakistan grants second consular access after initial refusal". NDTV. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Indian spy Sarabjit Singh fights for his life after Pakistan prison attack". The Australian. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "India wants Sarabjit home, Pak turns down appeal". Hindustan Times. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "On life support: No need to shift Sarabjit abroad, says hospital chief". The Express Tribune. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- "PM Manmohan Singh terms attack on Sarabjit Singh as very sad". The Indian Express. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Manmohan terms attack on Sarabjit very sad". The Hindu. 27 April 2013. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
- "Sarabjit Singh attacked: Release him on humanitarian ground, Government appeals to Pakistan". NDTV. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "India formally asks Pakistan to release Sarabjit Singh". The Times of India. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- "Petition filed to send Sarabjit to UK for better treatment". Zee News. 29 April 2013. Retrieved 29 April 2013.
- Singh, Perneet (30 April 2013). "Upset, Sarabjit's family to return home today". The Tribune. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- Rana Yudhvir, Farooque Omar (1 May 2013). "Sarabjit Singh is brain dead, Pak doctors say". The Times of India. Retrieved 1 May 2013.
- Joshua, Anita (12 May 2013). "Sarabjit Singh dead". The Hindu. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "Sarabjit Singh's vital organs missing, Indian doctors say". 4 May 2013.
|last1=in Authors list (help)
- "Sarabjit's skull was broken into two pieces". Hindustan Times. 4 May 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2013.
- "Rs 1 crore assistance to Sarabjit's family, 3-day state mourning in Punjab". Samay Live. 2 May 2013.
- Ex-Army man attacks Pak prisoner inside Jammu prison – Live
- "Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah dies in Chandigarh hospital". India Today. 9 May 2013.