Amritsar, June 27 -- An evening that started with the news they had been awaiting for years, ended in utter disbelief and despair for Sarabjit Singh's family. By midnight, Pakistan "clarified" that the prisoner being released was actually a Faridkot native named Surjeet Singh, and not Bhikhiwind native Sarabjit. The cruel blow hurt the family, but Sarabjit's gritty sister Dalbir Kaur refused to lose hope.
She did say that not releasing Sarabjit now would "hurt the sentiments not only of our family but all of India", but added in her characteristic never-say-die spirit, "I have a lot of belief in God. I will go to the gurdwara in the morning to pray that my brother comes home, and all this confusion ends. I again appeal to Pakistan to release my brother and stick to the earlier news."
Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur could not find words to express her disappointment. Hours after distributing sweets in the village, she said, "I have not seen it on TV. But if it indeed is true (that Sarabjit is not being released), it will only add to our agony."
"First announcing that Sarabjit will be free, and then terming it a mistake, is like playing with our sentiments. I pray that all goes well and my husband comes back home. We have waited for him for more than two decades," she added.
In the evening, as soon as news broke that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zaradri had purportedly commuted the death sentence of Sarabjit Singh who is in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail since 22 years, it was celebration time in Bhikhiwind. Congratulatory calls and visitors poured in. Sweets were distributed and plans of welcoming Sarabjit were also announced.
Even the lawyer of Sarabjit, Awais Sheikh, had told the family and media about the Sarabjit's "release".
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.