New Delhi: BJP on Wednesday accused the Indian government of failing to bring death row convict Sarabjit Singh, who is jailed in Pakistan, back home and suggested the Manmohan Singh dispensation adopt an “aggressive and offensive” attitude with the neighbouring country.
“Yesterday, there were reports quoting the Pakistani media that Sarabjit Singh has been released. People in India started celebrations at this news when it was reported that Surjeet is being released. How did Sarabjit of the night before become Surjeet in the morning?” BJP spokesperson Jagat Prakash Nadda said.
He asked the External Affairs Ministry to clarify its stand on this new development and accused it of not being “aggressive and offensive” enough with Pakistan.
“This is a sensitive and emotional issue. The country wants to know why the office of Pakistan President Asif Zardari took after five long hours to deny that Sarabjit is not being released. And why did our External Affairs Minister S M Krishna take 18 hours to speak on the issue?” Nadda said.
BJP asked the government of India to clarify whether Sarabjit was to be released and there was a change in plans and Surjeet’s name came up under some pressure.
BJP also asked the government to use its office to get the death sentence of Sarabjit commuted to life sentence. “In all fairness of the case, Sarabjit should be released,” Nadda said.
The Opposition also wondered if the arrest of November 2008 Mumbai terror attack handler Abu Jundal had led Pakistan to change plans and release Surjeet instead of Sarabjit and asked the government to come clear on the matter.
Former External Affairs Minister and BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said his own understanding is that some terrorist organisation in Pakistan has put pressure on Zardari who succumbed to that pressure and changed his original decision to release Sarabjit.
He demanded government of India should take up this issue with Pakistan and continue to plead for Sarabjit’s release as his family and the whole country want this.
Sinha hit out at Krishna for the development of this “very strange situation”.
“We do not know when our External Affairs Minister is awake and when he is sleeping because this is not the first time he has committed this blooper. He is known to have done this kind of thing even earlier,” Sinha said.
BJP demanded that Krishna explain what was the information in his possession which led to the announcement that he made and what made him change that decision.
“This is something that should be taken very, very seriously by the government of India. This is unacceptable that they raised hopes and then dashed them to the ground,” Sinha said.