Even as the entire nation is celebrating the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, further staying the capital punishment imposed upon Kulbhushan Jadhav, the sister of late Sarabjit Singh, Dalbir Kaur has also spoken about the ruling. Welcoming the ruling, Kaur said, “This is a big win for India. I congratulate Prime Minister Modi led government for reaching the ICJ and putting forth facts effectively. They also managed to get a stay on his punishment. The most important thing is that Jadhav will also get a lawyer to fight his case now.”
Speaking about the difference in which Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case was purused and the Sarabjit case was pursued by the then UPA government, she said, “I had approached the then government and told them to approach the ICJ as there were many mistakes in the case against Sarabjit. The then government acted but in an ineffective manner in Sarabjit’s case.” She also said that she had to fight a lone battle and said, “The lawyer to Sarabjit was from Pakistan. The Court was also Pakistani. It was a mere formality for them. I was fighting alone then.”
It must be noted that Sarabjit’s case was full of massive defects and blatant violation of human rights and settled principles of free and fair trial. Sarabjit was taken into custody by Pakistan Rangers after he mistakenly crossed the border into Pakistani territory in an inebriated state in the year 1990. It was clear that this was a case of mistaken identity. It was after one year that the family received a letter from Sarabjit which stated that he had been arrested in Pakistan as Manjit Singh. He was arrested as Manjit Singh even though he had no identification papers. He was convicted in the same name for Lahore bombings. He was also accused of spying and working for the Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW). Incidentally, Manjit Singh Rattu, who was charged with spying and carrying out Lahore blasts was later arrested in the year 2010. This exposed the fact that the trial conducted by Pakistan was a sham. It also became clear that this was a case of mistaken identity and Sarabjit was a victim of the same.
Sarabjit Singh’s right to a fair trial was blatantly violated by Pakistan. His identity was never proved in Court. In fact, with the passage of time it became clear that Sarabjit wasn’t Manjit Singh as Pakistan was trying to claim. Moreover, the trial was conducted in the English language, which Sarabjit Singh didn’t speak or understand. Despite this, no interpreter was provided to the Indian national unjustly taken into custody by the terrorist country. There were allegations that Sarabjit was tortured during the trial and made to “confess to his crimes” just how Kulbhushan was tortured for the same, a dirty trick inherent to the ISI. The case was also “fast-tracked” and the main witness kept on changing his version of the story. Moreover, the manner in which statements were recorded by the Magistrate and identification by witnesses was carried out was also in gross violation of principles of fair trial. No procedural safeguards were observed as such.
The then UPA government was plainly apathetic towards Sarabjit and his family. One can only imagine how different things could have been had the UPA government acted with the same kind of swiftness and vigour that the Modi government displayed in the Jadhav case. Pakistan was clearly apathetic and denied all human rights to Jadhav but the conduct of the UPA government was no better. The government at the centre at that time failed to mount international pressure or take up the case at the kind of level that the Modi government has succeeded in.
Sarabjit was murded savagely in 2013 in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail by fellow prisoners as Pakistan had not provided him adequate security. When his body was returned to India, it was found that his organs, including heart and kidneys, were missing and skull had been broken into two pieces. After the postmortem in India, Indian doctors flagged the issue as missing organs hindered them from conducting toxicology tests. Even this was not aggressively protested by the UPA government.
Had the UPA government taken up the case with greater interest and intensity, Sarabjit could have come out alive of the terrorist country. The distinction in the way Jadhav’s case was pursued and Sarabjit’s case was pursued, represents the monumental difference between the NDA government under Narendra Modi and the UPA government under Manmohan Singh. While the former clearly cares for its citizens, especially when they are in a vulnerable state, the latter was plainly apathetic and oblivious to its own citizens.