New Delhi: Not one, two, or three, but he spent 30 long years in jail continuously. Though 71-year-old Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh’s long ordeal has finally come to an end with his release from Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore on Thursday, but there remains a number of unanswered questions which need to be clarified from both the countries -- India and Pakistan.

Indian legal experts blamed the political insensitiveness exhibited by both the countries and it was the main reason due to which a man had to forcefully languish in jail for more than three decades.

“Justice delayed is justice denied. The political system of both countries has to be blamed for Surjeet’s long trauma. The irony is that he is finally released from jail for the offence he had committed 30 years ago. Strange! What kind of system we have where a man has to languish in a jail for continuously 30 years,” Justice (Retd) RS Sodhi of the Delhi high court, while talking to Jagranpost said over phone.

Sodhi also made it clear that efforts should have been made much before by both the countries for Surjeet’s early release. It is, infact, media which highlighted several issues including this one, but time and again, due to the political instability clubbed with lackadaisical attitude of the authorities concerned, these type of matters did not come to its logical conclusion.

Justice (Retd) VN Khare of the Supreme Court said, it is strange that a man has to serve for 30 long years on charges of spying. The matter could have been solved amicably by the intervention of both the countries, but in vain.

“30 years is a long period and precious time for each and every individual. Forget about Surjeet. Think from the angle of humanity and being sensible. His life has almost, you can say, been spent in jail. What a pity it is? Releasing a man from jail at this age means that both the countries need to seriously introspect into such kind of sensitive issues,” Khare said.

Surjeet, an Indian national was arrested by Pakistani police on charges of spying during the regime of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq in early 80’s. Singh was sentenced to death under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985. The death sentence was, however, commuted to life imprisonment in 1989 by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan.

After 15 years of his marriage, it was in 1981 that Surjeet disappeared without any intimation to his wife Harbans Kaur and his four children. Surjeet was in his early 40s at that time and had also worked for Punjab police in the past. At that time, his youngest daughter was one-and-a-half years old while eldest one was 12 years old.

Suchitra Kalyan Mohanty/JPN

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