A pall of gloom has descended at the house of Sarabjit Singh, the alleged spy on death row in Pakistan, as the news about the dismissal of a review petition challenging his death sentence reached Bhikhiwind border village, 50 km from Amritsar.
People from Bikhiwind and nearby villages flocked Sarabjit's residence, expressing sympathy with the kin.
The family was shocked to know that their advocate Rana Abdul Hamid, whom "they had trusted like a messiah" for Sarabjit's release, backstabbed them by "deliberately avoiding to appear" in the Supreme Court.
Sukhpreet Kaur, Sarabjit's wife said, "I am still hopeful to unite with Sarabjit. I do understand God put the entire family on a hard test and certainly God will bring Sarabjit back to India safe since every Indian knows that my husband is innocent. He never committed any crime in Pakistan's territory.
Sarabjit could never harm anyone and this is next to impossible that my husband could carry out bomb blasts as alleged by the Pakistani police."
Sukhpreet said, "I was quite hopeful from the Centre that it will do something for the safe repatriation of my husband as a number of meetings were held with Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party leader L.K Advani, but nothing came out. All my hopes were dashed due to Centre's negligent behaviour towards hapless Sarbjeet".
Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur said they were quite hopeful that the petition would bring an end to the 'false' charges against her brother and he would be back in the family after 19 years.
Dalbir Kaur said that they had paid Rs 3 lakh to the lawyer, but he was expecting more money. "In the absence of any permanent source of income, we managed to pay Rs 3 lakh to the advocate, but he showed no mercy to attend the hearing of an innocent Indian," she said.
She said Sarabjit's lawyer failed to appear in court for the last few hearings, including the last one on Monday. They said Hamid, the lawyer, deliberately did not appear and even didn't bother to send any juniors to court to represent his case.
"I know he was last year appointed an additional advocate general by the Punjab province", she said.
Urging the Centre, Sukhpreet said, "Under the present circumstances, it is our government's duty to protect Sarbjit Singh who is struggling between death and life in a foreign land. Here, in my husband's absence, I know how I have brought up my two daughters, who are now at a marriageable age. My daughters often ask me that what our government is doing for the safe home-coming of their father. I don't have any answer."
Sarabjit's elder daughter Swapandeep said, "Like in the past, we again look up to the country's people to voice their concern over the issue and compel the government to forcefully take it up with the Pakistan government."
Meanwhile, the family is trying to contact well-known human rights activists in Pakistan, including Ansar Burney and Ashima Jehangir, to lobby with their country's government to secure Sarabjit's release.
Burney on Wednesday said that he would file a fresh mercy petition to Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari on behalf of Sarabjit.
"Now, I am going to file a fresh mercy petition before the President of Pakistan on Thursday, June 25, and from my side I am confident that I will not allow Pakistan government to hang an innocent person only on the basis that he is Non-Muslim or an Indian national," Burney said.