MUMBAI: The seesaw game that’s being played by the Pakistani government over the future of the Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, has prompted actor and activist Raza Murad to intensify his campaign to get Sarabjit freed.
Apparently Sarabjit’s family has been counting on the actor for Sarabjit’s release. Says Raza, “And now after being informed that Sarabjit is finally being freed we are told that the Pakistani government made a mistake. Kuch to reham karo Sarabjit ke parivar par. What are they doing to his mother, wife and children by killing them bit by bit with this seesaw of hope and despair?”
Raza has so far collected a mindblowing 13,8226 signatures to support Sarabjit’s release. And now the Free Sarabjit campaign intensifies. Raza plans to travel to Pakistan with Sarabjit’s family to put in a personal request. Says the actor passionately, “We’re making a humanitarian appeal, not a political or legal appeal. Irrespective of Sarabjit’s guilt the man has suffered immensely. Let him go, for God’s sake. I started my ‘Free Sarabjit campaign’ from the Ajmer Sharif dargah. I’ve managed to collect 13,8226 signatures. We’ve sent a memorandum to the Pakistan high commission requesting them to release Sarabjit on 14 August (Pakistan’s independence day). We’ve sent messages to the Pakistani President for Sarabjit’s clemency. And just when we thought we had succeeded we’re told it’s an error. Is this a joke? Our fight for the man’s freedom will now intensify.”
Continues Raza Murad, “Our struggle continues. How can they say it was an error in the name? We’re nobody to challenge the verdict of the honourable Pakistani courts. All I am saying is, show some compassion. So many times I’ve been asked to lead protest marches against Sarabjit’s imprisonment. I say, no. We want to request,not protest. We’re not questioning the Pakistani government’s decision. Even if Sarabjit has done what he is accused of he has already been punished. He and his family are dying bit by bit every day.Why kill him in this slow and painful way?”
Raza thinks Pakistan needs to reciprocate our gestures of goodwill. “We released a doctor from across the border in Ajmer. We treat patients with life-threatening diseases from Pakistan. We’ve released thousands of POWs including war criminals. In spite of us being the ‘Big Brother’ we’ve repeatedly been the first to extend a hand of friendship. Can’t they show some compassion for Sarabjit? He has submitted a mercy petition five times. How much will you torture this man? What else do you want?”
Raza Murad reveals that originally they were in search of another man altogether when the Pakistani authorities nabbed Sarabjit. “Actually they were in search of someone called Manjit Singh. I’ve written a couplet to describe Sarabjit’s poignant predicament. Hai gham ki usska wahan koi meet nahin hai/Yeh sabki ghuzarish hai koi geet nahin hai/Ghalati se jisko aapne rakhaa hai pakadke/Woh shaqs Sarabjit Manjit nahin hai. To this we can add that he isn’t Shujit either. If the need of the hour is to develop a friendly relationship between the two nations then let’s not squander away a chance for the Pakistanis for a goodwill gesture.”
“I am in constantly in touch with the family, and also with Pakistan human and civil right activist Ansar Burney who is doing his best to get Sarabjit released. Sarabjit’s family visits me regularly at my residence in Mumbai..I’ve assured them, my struggle to get Sarabjit released will continue.”
Raza adds tongue-in-cheek that he has no political motive behind his efforts. “I clarify this in the light of the fact that our politicians have started making their rotis in Sarabjit’s name. My fight is not political. It’s purely humanitarian.”