Press Council of India chairman Markandey Katju has once again appealed to the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan to release Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh who is on death row for over two decades.
Katju's appeal came on a day when 26/11 attack convict Ajmal Kasab was hanged in Pune following rejection of his mercy plea by President Pranab Mukherjee.
"You must have heard that Ajmal Kasab has been hanged in India. I wish to respectfully point out to you that this case is totally different from that of Sarabjit Singh who has been on death row in Pakistan for 21 years.
"About Kasab, there is no doubt about his guilt as he was caught red handed. However, there is great doubt about the guilt of Sarabjit Singh. So, the two cases are not similar," Katju said in a letter to the Pakistan High Commissioner to India Salman Bashir. He asked Bashir to convey his views to the Pakistan President and the Prime Minister.
Noting that he had pleaded for Sarabjit's release in his four previous letters, Katju said "I earnestly request you to pardon him and send him back to India".
He said though there were no doubts that courts there have convicted Sarabjit, there were "serious flaws" in the prosecution version.
Katju said Sarabjit's name was not even in the FIR related to the Lahore Bomb blast in 1990 for which he has been convicted. He said the main prosecution witness Shaukat Salim later retracted his statement and said it was given under police pressure.
As regards his alleged confession, the PCI Chairman said Sarabjit's own version was that he had illegally gone to Pakistan for doing liquor trade and was arrested there and falsely implicated in the bomb blast case.
"...He has already spent 21 years in death row when he does not know when he would be hanged. This is enough to drive one mad. I sincerely urge you to show mercy and exercise your power of pardon in his case," Katju said.