Victims of the border Indians who have languished in Pakistani jails for years and died
news Wednesday, April 13, 2016 - 17:13

Indians being lodged in Pakistani jails is not a new phenomenon. However, while most of them make it back home, there are a few who do not.

Most Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails are fishermen who often stray into Pakistani territory unwittingly. A recent media report said that 457 Indians are lodged in Pakistan while 113 Pakistanis are believed to be in Indian jails. While the two countries secure the release of the fishermen of their respective countries from time to time, a small group of them do not.

For some of them, given the border tensions between India and Pakistan, there is perhaps no hope of returning home, as they are accused or convicted of political activity or acts of terror.

Here are some of the more prominent ones:

Kirpal Singh

Kirpal, who hailed from Gurdaspur, languished in Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore for nearly 25 years on spying charges. He had allegedly crossed over to Pakistan through the Wagah border in 1992 and was arrested. He was subsequently sentenced to death in a serial bomb blasts case in Pakistan's Punjab province. Although he was acquitted of charges related to bomb blasts by the Lahore High Court, his death sentence could not be commuted due to unknown reasons.

In the wee hours of Monday, Kirpal was admitted to a hospital in Lahore after he complained of chest pain. He subsequently died.

On Wednesday, it was reported the MEA had asked the Indian High Commissioner to take up the issue of early transportation of Kirpal’s mortal remains at the highest possible level with the Pakistani establishment.
Jagir Kaur, Kirpal's sister, earlier said the family could not pursue any means for his release due to financial constraints and no politician came forward to plead his case.

Kishore Bhagwan

In February 2014, there were reports of an Indian fisherman named Kishore Bhagwan was found dead in Landhi jail in Karachi. The cause of death was never established.

He was arrested by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) along with other fishermen and was sent to the Landhi jail for allegedly entering Pakistan's exclusive economic zone without legal documents.

In February 2013, Kishore managed to escape from jail when he was taken outside to do manual labour, but he was re-arrested after a 10-month search in December from PIB colony in Karachi, the reports added.

Sarabjit Singh

Sarabjit, of Bhikiwind village in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, was convicted of involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990. At the time of his death in 2013, he had spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons.

In June 2012, the release of Surjeet Singh caused a flutter after he told the Indian media on his return home, that he was a spy for RAW. Sarabjit’s family however, has always said that he was a victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.

Lodged in Kot Lakhpat jail, Sarabjit Singh was severely beaten by fellow prisoners on April 26, 2013. He died a week later after being kept on life support at Jinnah Hospital.

A prisoner on death row, Sarabjit’s mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf.

The erstwhile Pakistan People’s Party-led government put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period in 2008. In the same year, at least two other Indians were killed while lodged in Pakistani jails.

A Bollywood biopic based on Sarabjit is set to hit the screens on May 20 which will star Randeep Hooda as the lead  and Aishwarya Rai as Sarbajit’s sister Dalbir Kaur.

Chamel Singh

Chamel Singh died in 2013 after he was allegedly tortured to death in Kot Lakhpat jail by prison staff.

An autopsy revealed four injuries, including a fracture, on his body. Singh, said to be in his 60s, hailed from Jammu district.

He was arrested and convicted for espionage in Pakistan in 2008. His family contended he was not involved in spying and had gone missing from his fields on the border with Pakistan in July 2008.

Zakir Mumtaz

Zakir Mumtaz who was lodged in the same Lahore jail died allegedly due to heart failure.

He was arrested on August 3, 2011 for allegedly crossing the border illegally. He was held in a jail in Sheikhaupura before being sent to Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore.

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