Campaign on to save Indian on death row in Pakistan

New Delhi, August 24:

Television networks, MPs, children, film actors and war widows rallied today behind a growing campaign to save an Indian sentenced to hang in Pakistan on charges of espionage.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised to talk to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf about the condemned “spy” Sarabjit Singh after Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld the sentence last week. MPs have said they will debate the matter in parliament.

Sarabjit Singh’s relatives claim he is a simple farmer who was arrested after he strayed across the Pakistani border from his northern frontier hometown of Bhikiwind in Punjab state while drunk in 1990.

His sister Dalbir Kaur says her brother has been confused with Manjit Singh, whom the Pakistani authorities want for a series of bombings in 1990. Bhikiwind residents today held street marches in a show of solidarity for Singh. In New Delhi, school children launched a public campaign in support of the man set to be hanged on a date yet to be fixed. TV stations urged viewers to send SMS messages in support of Singh.

Pakistan says he is a member of India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing . Indian foreign ministry sources said Islamabad today acceded to its request for consular access to Singh in a Pakistani prison. In Islamabad, a Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman said Singh had confessed to his crimes and was using Manjit Singh as an alias at the time of the blasts. “This man was arrested in 1990 and he has been charged with espionage and terrorist activities,” spokesman Naeem Khan said.

“He has confessed carrying out the attacks in court . His name is Sarabjit Singh and he was using an alias as Manjit Singh.” A member of a Pakistani parliamentary delegation visiting New Delhi said today his group respected local sentiments. The PTI quoted Pakistan Information Minister Sheikh Rashid as saying Islamic law would not permit Musharraf to use is authority to pardon Singh.