Wagah:  Surjeet Singh, who was released from a Pakistani jail after 31 years, on Thursday said Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh is fine and hoped that he is freed soon.

The 69-year-old, who was released from Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail, said he used to meet Sarabjit, 49, on a weekly basis in the same prison.

Photo Gallery: Surjeet-Sarabjit Drama

'I met Sarabjit weekly'

"He is not facing any problems there. He is fine. I used to meet him on a weekly basis in the prison," Surjeet told reporters here.

"I hope he is released soon," he said.

Surjeet walks free in handcuffs 

After spending 31 years in Pakistani jail, Surjeet Singh walked free from the prison van in handcuffs and iron chain at the Wagah border from the Pakistan's side on Thursday and crossed over to his home country to an emotional renunion with his family.

He was welcomed with garlands and red shawls by his family and villagers, after completing official procedures on the Pakistan side of the border.
"After 30 years, I am meeting my children. I am very happy," he told reporters here.

'Will never return to Pakistan'

While talking to reporters, he said that he would never like to return to Pakistan as he might be accused of the same crime again in the neighbouring land.

'Release prisoners of both sides'

Appealing both the Indian and Pakistan government, the Singh said that prisoners on both sides of the border should be released.

Surjeet, who now has a flowing white beard, said that he was looking forward to meeting his family -- waiting excitedly across the border in Attari in the Indian Punjab to welcome him home. He had completed his life term in 2005.

Surjeet returns home after 30 years    

Singh has been in Pakistani captivity for over 30 years.

Awais Sheikh, the counsel for Singh, told the media that the Indian national was arrested by Pakistani police on charges of spying during the regime of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.

Singh was given the death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1989 by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

Elated Surjeet   

Sources said Singh had held meetings with other prisoners in Kot Lakhpat Jail on Wednesday to bid them farewell. He also requested the authorities to serve him 'sewai' to celebrate his impending release, the sources said.

Singh is expected to be repatriated along with 315 Indian fishermen who were on Wednesday freed from a jail in the southern port city of Karachi. The fishermen were released as a goodwill gesture, officials said.

After he emerged from the jail, Surjeet Singh said he was looking forward to meeting his family.
"During my imprisonment I often remembered my family and children. Today I am very happy. I will go to the Golden Temple to pray and hug my children," he told reporters.
Hours after reports emerged on Tuesday that Pakistan was to free Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, the presidential spokesman clarified that authorities had actually ordered the release of Surjeet and not Sarabjit.


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