Following Sarabjit Singh’s death at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail and the monetary compensation awarded to his family in its wake, several Indian men who claim to have served jail terms in Pakistan for spying have decided to demand financial assistance from the Centre and the Punjab government, the Daily Mail has reported.
Back in 1988, Karamat Rahi was arrested from Lahore with some sensitive documents. “I spent 18 years in jail in Pakistan. When I approached the agency which had sent me across the border, I was told not to make a hue and cry about my plight,” he recalled.
Now, he wants the government to help him get back on his feet. “I need help to settle my grown-up son,” he said.
Karamat, who was released after the then Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh intervened on his behalf, says he was saddened to hear about Sarabjit, whom he had met more than once as an inmate at Kot Lakhpat.
“I am sad about his murder, but happy that the prime minister and the Punjab chief minister have awarded financial assistance to his family,” he added, saying that the government ought to help out spies like him similarly.
Another “spy” living a pauper’s life echoes Karamat’s demand. Daniel aka Bahadur from Daduan village in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, pulls a rickshaw to earn a living and is a bitter man today. Daniel says he was arrested by the Pakistan rangers in 1993 and jailed for over four years.
“I attempted to contact the officers who sent me, but no one bothered. The security agencies simply discard people after their arrest,” he added. Then there is Sunil Masih of Daduan village, who was arrested from Pakistan’s Shakargarh on February 2, 1999.
“I returned home in 2006, in a bad shape,” he said, adding that the government should rehabilitate them.
Recalling the people he met who had been jailed for spying, Karamat added: “There must be hundreds of people sourcing information from Pakistan but their families will perish without any help. If the government gave assistance to the family of an innocent person and some spies, why can’t it help people like me?”