He crossed the border. He came home, 23 years later, in a body bag.
Sarabjit Singh has become a house hold name in India. His story is like a three act tragedy which left Indians speechless and teary eyed. However, Sarabjit’s story has many subplots. One which needs special mention is the quest of Dalbir Kaur, Sarabjit’s sister. She fought 23 years to bring her brother home. When everyone gave up she held on. While Sarabjit fought inside the bars for his life. She fought outside for his life too. This is a story which can put fiction to shame.
Sarabjit Singh – at a Glance
Sarabjit was born in Punjab. Pakistan had accused him of being Manjit Singh. Sarabjit, an Indian, got arrested and charged for terrorism and spying in Pakistan. The Supreme Court of Pakistan tried him for serial bombing and then convicted him. In the bomb attack in 1990, 14 people died in Lahore and Faisalabad.
Sarabjit, a farmer, was unfortunate enough to drift beyond the border. His timing of entering Pakistan was wrong. It was just three months after the bombing he mistakenly walked into the country.
Pakistani media gave him the tag of Indian spy from RAW. He also accused him of working undercover for India. He was put through a hasty trial. The case was handled by Lahore high court. Later it was transferred to Supreme Court.
In the year of 1991, Pakistani court found him guilty. Sarabjit was sentenced to death. It is suspected that his conviction was a result of immense public pressure. The law enforcement division needed someone to blame for the bombing and Sarabjit was just there at the wrong place.
While in prison in April 2013, he became the victim of malice attack of inmates. He was allegedly hit by iron rods, metal sheets, which put him to ventilator with brain damage and severely injured backbone. Six days later, he died in Jinnah Hospital on May 2. 2013.
Background and Family
Sarabjit was born in the year of 1963 or 1964. His hometown was Bhikhiwind. This small town is located near Indo-Pakistan border. Sarabjit was married to Sukhpreet Kaur. The couple had two daughters, Swapanadeep and Poonam. He had a sister Dalbir Kaur. She fought till the end for his release.
This relation issue was challenged by another woman Baljinder Kaur. She claimed that Dalbir is not Sarabjit’s sister. According to Baljinder, she is the real sister of Sarabjit. Baljinder said that Dalbir promised to fight for Sarabjit’s release. The family had trusted Dalbir. However, later on they were pushed out of the picture.
In her support, Dalbir said nothing. She maintained her claim that she had nothing to prove to anyone. Eventually, she claimed that Sarabjit’s brothers had not right to light the death pyre of Sarabjit. In her words, people came for publicity. They did not stand by her when she struggled to release her brother.
The Arrest and Trial
Sarabjit was arrested by the Pakistani rangers. At the time of his arrest, he was in Kasur. According to the supporters, the arrest occurred as a case of mistaken identity. Sarabjit was drunk and way-laid its way into the Pakistani territory.
For nine months, Sarabjit’s family found no trace of him. They kept searching for him in vain. One year later, they were surprised to receive a letter from Sarabjit. He wrote to his family that he had been arrested in Pakistan. Because he had no identification with him at the time of arrest, the Pakistani police mistaken him as Manjit and charged him for terrorism.
According to some sources, Sarabjit was initially charged with trespassing. The court was prosecuting him for illegally entering the country. However, some days later, they charged him with bombing.
Pakistani police force claimed that he was an Indian spy who was responsible for the serial bombing in Lahore and Faisalabad. They also claimed that Sarabjit was arrested on his way to India after carrying out his mission. He confessed to the bombing on camera. Later some sources revealed that ‘the real’ Manjit Singh was in Canada.
In the year 1991, he was sentenced to death. This sentence was upheld by Pakistani court. Later Supreme Court dismissed his petition to review the sentence.
Issues with the Trial
None of the reports regarding the bombing had Sarabjit’s name in it. Additionally, his identity was not verified in the trial. Pakistani police could not provide any evidence to link him to the bombing. The trial was held in English. Sarabjit could not speak or understand English. Pakistani court did not appoint him any translator.
The Effort of Releasing Him
Sarabjit’s arrest attracted the attention of the nation. Several movements had been organized. Bollywood actor Raza Murad organized campaigns for his release along with British lawyer Jas Uppal.
However, Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur played the biggest role in free Sarabjit campaign. She fought for his release since 1991. However, all her attempt failed. She even joined force with the Pakistani human rights activists and continued to fight for her brother’s release. Dalbir crossed the border and talked to the Pakistani authority.
Now, after Sarabjit’s death, director of Mary Kom, Umang Kumar is set to bring the real story out in front of the people. Aishwarya Rai plays the character of Dalbir while Randeep Hooda is portraying Sarabjit.
Sarabjit Singh’s wife – Sukhpreet Kaur
She along with Sarabjit Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur tried her best to secure justice for him. In the year 2012, there was news that Sarabjit Singh had been released. Sukhpreet Kaur had distributed sweets to the entire village of Bhikiwind (native place of Sarabjit); there was dancing and celebrations on the supposed good news. Sukhpreet and her daughter Poonam Kaur (who was then hardly 24 days old when her father had disappeared) had even decorated a car with flowers all set to welcome Sarabjit. But hours later, there was news that it was not Sarabjit but some Surjeet Singh who was released. Following the disillusionment and disdain at how the Pakistani law-makers could be so irresponsible, Sukhpreet got into action with Dalbir and started on yet another brave attempt to save their family member. Unfortunately, the act of valor did not materialize into productive justice and Sarabjit Kaur died after alleged torture, in 2013.
Sarajbit Singh – Photos
Sarabjit Singh’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur – Pictures
Sarabjit Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur – Photos
Sarabjit Singh’s daughters -Poonam and Swapandeep
While the elder daughter’s name is Swapandeep Kaur, Sarabjit Singh’s younger daughter’s name is Poonam. Apparently, Bollywood singer Mika agreed to finance the wedding of the younger daughter.