Chandigarh, Jun 29 - Cutting across party lines, the Punjab Assembly today unanimously welcomed the release of Surjeet Singh, while urging the Centre to take initiatives for the early release of condemned prisoner Sarabjit Singh from Pakistan's jail.
Leader of the House and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal moved a resolution welcoming the release of Surjeet Singh, who returned home yesterday after spending 31 years in a Pakistan jail. "I congratulate Surjeet and his family members", Badal said moving the resolution.
He, however, urged the Centre to take steps to secure the release of another resident of the state Sarabjit Singh languishing in Lahore jail for the last 20 years. The Chief Minister said that the early release of Sarabjeet would help in further improving the relations between Pakistan and India.
"The relations between India and Pakistan had improved considerably by opening up of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) at Wagha", he said. He urged the Prime Minister and Foreign Minister to take up the matter of release of Sarabjeet Singh.
"By releasing all prisoners who had completed their jail term will definitely improve relations between the two nations", Badal said, adding, both India and Pakistan are working to improve relations between the two nations.
Leader of Opposition Sunil Kumar Jakhar of Congress also supported Badal's resolution and demanded that all prisoners who had completed their sentence and were languishing in different jails of Pakistan must be released for improving the ties between the two countries.
Congress MLA Rana Gurjeet Singh Sodhi also urged Badal to extend financial help to Surjeet's family as their financial condition is bad.
Assuring the House, Badal said that he would take up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner and would provide all possible help under the law. "I am prepared to do my best for the Surjeet's family", Badal said.
69-year-old Singh was released from Kot Lakhpat Jail at Lahore yesterday. He returned to India through the Indo-Pak border at Attari near Amritsar.
Surjeet Singh served a life term following his arrest on charges of spying in the 1980s in Pakistan. He was given a death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1989 by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.
49-year-old Sarabjit was convicted and sentenced to death for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks that killed 14 people in Punjab in 1990. PTI