In 1991, Sarabjit Singh an Indian national, was sentenced to death on conviction for terrorism and spying for a series of bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people in 1990. Five of his mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and the President of Pakistan. His execution was put off for an indefinite period in 2008.

On 26 April 2013 at about 4:30 pm, Sarabjit was attacked in the Kot Lakhpat Central Jail Lahore (Kot is small town, lakh is 100,000; pati is one who has 100,000; the area is called this after a ‘lahkpati’ who lived there) and was admitted to Hospital in a coma. The attack came allegedly as retaliation to the execution of Afzal Guru in India in February 2013 over his role in the 2001 Indian Parliament attack case.

Geopolitics, state rivalries, religion, and legalities aside, Sarbajit Singh was a human being, and as I read and saw his news, I could not but think of what he would have gone through the 22 years of his incarceration, and these thoughts took the shape of the poem below.

my masters

handlers of my fate

moving me as a pawn

on the board of

hate and expediency

like a sacrificial goat.

did you plan my

moves on the board

to wreak havoc

and loose myself

in the ensuing melee

lucky if i escaped

life paid for if i lost.

if you could but

taste even a second

of the twenty-two years

of the time of my life

i lost playing out

your designed end game.

till one day in kot lakhpat

the town of the

holder of a lakh

each day an agony

waiting to end in reprieve;

and out of the blue

set upon by men


having nothing to lose

for they too

were already condemned

living on death row

to agonizingly wait

for the last visit.

but i, set upon

saw stars and

a pain and

blissful darkness

and my last thoughts


is this the tightening

of the noose’s rope

thrown over the gallows,

or reincarnation?

and the news proclaimed

sarbajeet singh is dead!

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