Sarabjit’s lawyer -Awais Sheikh, in dock !
Letter to caretaker Punjab CM for security to Pak lawyer
By Rashmi Talwar
AMRITSAR May 3, 2013——————
Awais Sheikh, the Pakistani counsel for deceased Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Pak jail, is a scared man. Although having a slight physical stature, he has guts of steel and has never felt frightened while supporting Sarabjit’s case. He took over as lawyer of Sarabjit after 26/11 Mumbai attacks from Mr Rana another counsel of the Indian prisoner, during the time when hatred between the two countries was at its peak and the Pak SC had announced an ex-parte decision due to the absence of Sarabjit’s counsel in court.
Even when Awais was thrown out of his rented place by his landlord, labeled an Indian agent and during the time when protests were held against him outside Lahore Press on the announcement that Sarabjit was to be released but was retracted within six hours and another prisoner Surjeet singh was released in his place; Awais did not cow down and never backtracked, he held on to his courage. He came to India more than 25 times without fear of persecution from intelligence agencies of Pakistan.
In a letter today to the caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab- Najam Sethi (in view of forthcoming elections in Pakistan) the Human Rights Watch has written that Awais was subjected to an attempt at kidnapping at Wagah border besides receiving threatening letters and phone calls from organizations that claim to have strong links with Taliban. They have urged the government to provide him clandestine (invisible) security so that he does not become a visible target of those who want to eliminate him.
Awais has addressed umpteenth press conferences since 2008, in both India and Pakistan, even garnering support of celebrities to urge both countries to repatriate their prisoners after their prison terms were over and has mounted an attack on both countries for their callousness, time and again especially in the case of Sarabjit.
But after Sarabjit’s death in Lahore, it was the first time that fear was in Awais’s voice. After the attack on Sarabjit he said, he was fearful that he too may be eliminated. He related to me over phone from Lahore – “I came to see off Dalbir Kaur and Sarabjit’s family at Wagha Indo Pak border after they met Sarabjit in hospital, and this time the intelligence sleuths laid a trap me, of which I was pre-warned, so I managed to sneak out in a private vehicle.” And further, expressed his fear that after Sarabjit’s slaughter –“This time, they will come after me and kill me too!”
Awais has written a book titled “Sarabjit Singh- A case of mistaken identity” published by Indian Publishers Rajkamal Prakashan, that was released in Delhi and Amritsar in January 2013. The book has complete details on Sarabjit’s case as well as many other prisoners in jails of India and Pakistan belonging to either country.
Besides this he has copies of documentations to prove Sarabjit’s real name was Sarabjit and not ‘Manjit Singh’ as filed in the FIR. He had earlier penned another book –Samjohta express”- The train between India and Pakistan. Awais was last here in India, to release the book on Sarabjit Singh, in Delhi and Amritsar in January 2013.
Justice Markandey Katju Chairman of the Press Council of India, former Supreme court Judge and chairman of the ‘Free Sarabjit Committee had commented on the book –“The prosecution evidence in the case of Sarabjit Singh is very weak . His name was not even in the First Information Report”.
The winner of USA’s ‘Global Media Award for Excellence’ Zubeida Mustafa had stated on the book –“Sarabjit has not received a fair trial. That is the irony. The quirks of international relations and a flawed legal system have combined to determine the unhappy fate of this man.”
FIRST PUBLISHED IN RISING KASHMIR RK