New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna has assured the family of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national facing death penalty in Pakistan that he would take up the issue of his release when he will meet his Pakistani counterpart.
Syed Akbaruddin, spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs, said at a media briefing that Krishna has been taking a "keen interest" in the matter.
He said that on June 27 this year, Krishna renewed his request to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to release Sarabjit Singh, who has been in custody in Pakistan for over two decades.
Sarabjit, a resident of Bhikhiwind township along the border, was convicted of staging four bombings in Lahore and Multan in 1990 that killed at least 14 people. However, his family claims he crossed into Pakistan inadvertently in August 1990 in an inebriated state and was arrested there.
The official said that India has consistently urged Pakistan on several occasions to take a "sympathetic and humanitarian view" of the case regarding Sarabjit and the Indian mission in Islamabad is ready to assist his lawyer if required.
"Our high commission in Islamabad stands ready to assist Sarabjit's lawyer should he require it. But at this stage my understanding is that the lawyer himself has requested the Pakistani authorities. Should he require further assistance on this matter, the high commission would assist him in terms of consular assistance," he said.
The official added that in case the “matter further proceeds, the external affairs minister have assured Sarabjit's family that he would raise it when he meets his opposite number whenever and wherever that is".
On June 26, a controversy broke out after reports in the Pakistani media of Sarabjit getting a presidential pardon. However, the Pakistani government clarified that it was not Sarabjit, but Surjeet Singh, another Indian languishing in Pakistani jails for 30 years on charges of spying.
While welcoming the release of Surjeet Singh, India had renewed its request to Zardari to free Sarabjit and all Indian prisoners who had completed their sentences.