New Delhi: Press Council of India Chairman Markandey Katju yesterday appealed to the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan to release Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row for over two decades there, on humane grounds.
"I am appealing to you in the name of humanity to release Sarabjit Singh, who is in a Pakistan jail, and send him back to India as soon as possible," Katju, a former Supreme Court judge, said.
Katju, in a letter addressed to Pakistan's Attorney General Irfan Qadir, said he had personally gone through the evidence against Singh, who had been convicted for alleged involvement in a bomb blasts in 1990, "meticulously and found it extremely weak".
"The main witness against him, Shaukat Salim, later retracted his statement, and said he gave it under police pressure. In the FIR Sarabjit's name is not mentioned.
"The other 'evidence' against him is his alleged confession, but we all know how 'confessions' are obtained in our countries," Katju said.
Moreover, Sarabjit has already spent over 22 years on death row, with a sword hanging over his head all the time. This can make anyone go mad, the PCI chief said.
"Does he not now deserve mercy (even assuming he was guilty)?," Katju said and cited a couplet by Urdu poet Faiz: "Qafas udas hai yaaron saba se kuch to kaho Kaheen to beher-e-khuda aaj zikr-e-yaar chale (the 'Cage' is sad, friend, say something to the breeze, Ocean of god is everywhere. Today let us hear about friends)."