India denies Surjeet Singh was spy
NEW DELHI – India on Friday denied that an Indian man freed after serving three decades in a Pakistani jail on espionage charges was a spy working for New Delhi.
The denial came even though the released prisoner, Surjeet Singh, 69, had told Indian media on Thursday that he was spying for India when he was arrested by Pakistani authorities in the 1980s. Singh, who was sentenced to death after being convicted by a Pakistani court on spying charges, returned to India on Thursday after being freed.
“We do not accept this (that Singh was a spy). It is completely wrong,” Indian Home Secretary RK Singh told a news conference in New Delhi.
“We deny it (because) we do not do this kind of thing,” he said in response to reporters’ questions about whether the freed man worked for government agencies. “Neither do we do spying, nor we send spies,” the home secretary added.
The two Singhs are not related. Surjeet Singh had told Indian reporters after returning home that he had gone to Pakistan for “spying” and named the Research and Analysis Wing, India’s espionage agency, as his paymaster.
In April 2011, Gopal Das, one of Pakistan’s longest-serving Indian prisoners, was released after Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari intervened in his case. Upon his release, Das admitted he was an Indian spy and lashed out at the Indian authorities for abandoning him during his 23 years in jail.
Meanwhile, Indian Home Minister P Chidambaram called on Pakistan on Friday to acknowledge that an arrested suspect in the 2008 Mumbai attacks had helped coordinate the assault from a command post in Karachi.
Sayed Zabiuddin, an Indian-born member of the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Taiba, was detained at Delhi international airport on June 21 when he arrived from the Middle East.
Indian police say Zabiuddin, who also goes under the names Abu Hamza and Abu Jundal, has confessed to being a key handler for the 10 militants who attacked India’s financial capital in 2008, killing 166 people.
According to police, he admitted being present in the “control room” in the southern Pakistan city of Karachi from where the attack was monitored and coordinated.
Mohammed Kasab, the lone surviving gunman from the attack, is currently on death row in a Mumbai prison.
Zabiuddin “had found a very safe haven in Pakistan,” Chidambaram told reporters.
“Pakistan should admit that (he) did go to Pakistan, that he was part of the group which prepared Kasab and nine others, that (he) was in the control room among one of the handlers and masterminds of the attack.
“Just as we admit facts, Pakistan should also admit facts,” the minister said.
Pakistan has asked India to share information on Zabiuddin and urged New Delhi to refrain from blaming Islamabad.
“India should supply details… enabling us to take action,” Pakistan’s advisor on interior affairs, Rehman Malik, said Wednesday.
“Let us end the blame game… We have to fight terrorism together,” Malik added.
Pakistan has indicted seven people for their alleged role in the Mumbai attacks but their trial, which began in 2009, has been beset by delays.
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