A pall of gloom today descended on Sarabjit's native Bikhiwind village in Punjab where hundreds of villagers had gathered last night to celebrate the news of commutation of his death sentence.
However, with Pakistan clarifying last night that the Indian prisoner being released is Faridkot native Surjeet Singh and not Sarabjit Singh, a wave of sorrow prevailed in the village.
Sarabjit, 49, who is being held at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Pakistan, was sentenced to death for alleged involvement in a string of blasts in Punjab province in 1990.
With tears in her eyes, Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur said, “It is difficult for us to believe the Sarabjit Singh has not been released. How can I accept that my brother would not come home yet.”
“The latest news wherein I was informed that my brother is not released is a cruel joke with the family whose sentiments have been badly hurt,” Dalbir, who has made many attempts to release her brother in the past, said.
However, Dalbir said she would not give up her struggle. “I would never stop my struggle to get my brother released. I would again visit Pakistan to seek appointment with President Asif Ali Zardari to do the needful for the release of my brother since he is innocent”.
Kaur says she would meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi and ask them to to take up the matter with Pakistan Government.
“The Pakistan President is a humble and noble personality and would definitely take up the mater to commute the death sentence of my innocent brother who is languishing in jail for more than 22 years,” she said.
Sukhpreet Kaur, wife of Sarabjit Singh said, “My husband must be released as the family has already suffered a lot and is now not in a position to suffer more”.
Sarabjit Singh's daughter Poonam said, “If Pakistan had mistakenly announced that her father was being released, it should commit one more mistake and announce the release of her father”.
She says that she is happy that Surjeet Singh is being released but her father should also be released along with him.
Surjeet has been in Pakistani captivity for over 30 years. He was captured near the border with India on charges of spying during the era of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.