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Amir Mir
Friday, May 10, 2013
From Print Edition
 
 

 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani captive Sanaullah Ranjha who breathed his last on May 9 after being seriously injured by an ex-soldier of the Indian army in a tit-for-tat attack following Sarabjit Singh’s killing in Lahore under similar circumstances, was sentenced to death twice by an Indian court 17 years ago for allegedly bombing a bus in Jammu & Kashmir in 1994 which had killed 10 people.

 

A resident of Dallowali village near Sialkot city, the 52-year-old Sanaullah was a known figure in the high security Kot Bhalwal Jail of Jammu & Kashmir where he spent most of his time during the past 17 years. Considered to be the most peaceful of the jail inmates, he was also part of the Jammu & Kashmir Prison Department’s ‘piper band’. Therefore, most of Sanaullah’s images which are available on search engines show him performing with the ‘piper band’. During his trial, he had refuted the terrorism charges against him and claimed that he had crossed over to the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) by mistake.

 

Sanaullah Ranjha was an illiterate who used to earn his bread and butter by operating a horse cart before he had entered into Jammu & Kashmir. Having been arrested by the Indian Border Security Force and handed over to the Indian intelligence community, he was eventually accused of carrying out terrorist activities being a Pakistani intelligence agent and, thus, handed down twin life terms. At the time of his death, Sanaullah was still under trial in six more cases under sections 302, 304, 494 of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC), the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Terrorism and Disturbed Areas Act (TADA).

 

Sanaullah was accused of allegedly masterminding the digging of a tunnel in Kot Bhalwal jail as the prison authorities had separated Pakistani prisoners from other inmates. After the plan was unearthed, the Pakistani convicts and other inmates were kept together to prevent any further plot to escape. He was attacked with an axe by another inmate Vinod Kumar — a former Indian Army soldier — who is also serving a life term. Vinod, who was court-martialed for killing a colleague when he was posted in Ladakh, was recently moved to Kot Bhalwal from Leh. Both the prisoners had a heated argument following which Vinod attacked Sanaullah with gardening tools, leaving him bloodied with numerous injuries on head.

 

It merits mentioning that Sanaullah was attacked just a day after Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh died in a Pakistani hospital following a fatal assault in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail. India condemned the incident and reportedly asked Pakistan to hold a high-level meticulous investigation into the allegations that the jail attack on Sarabjit was planned in advance by some Lashkar-e-Taiba-linked elements to avenge the hanging of LT’s Ajmal Kasab and JM’s Afzal Guru by the Indian government. Amir and Mudassar, two death-row prisoners at Kot Lakhpat Jail who have been charged with Sarabjit’s murder, have reportedly told their interrogators: “We believe that killing Sarabjit was an act of virtue. If anyone of our friends gets hold of his body, it will be publicly burnt to ashes! Only then will the heirs of the Pakistani martyrs find some peace.”

 

These were the words of Mudassar and Amir when Kot Lakhpat Jail Investigation In-charge Ch Rehmat Ali asked them to explain their motives. “How could Sarabjit get away with operationalising such bombings and killing 16 people? I am proud of killing him,” said Amir Tambaywala. The Indian media has already reported that Sarabjit Singh, who was cremated with full state honours and elevated to a national hero in India, was used by RAW to avenge Pakistan’s alleged support to the Khalistan Liberation Movement by Sikhs in the Indian Punjab.