Pakistani authorities on Thursday freed Indian national Gopal Das whose jail term was cut short by President Asif Ali Zardari on humanitarian grounds after he had spent 27 years in prison following his conviction for alleged involvement in espionage. Das was taken from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail and handed over by Pakistani officials to their Indian counterparts at the Wagah land border. “The Indian prisoner Gopal Das has been handed over to Indian authorities,” Pakistan Rangers spokesman Mahboob Hussain said. Footage on television showed Das, who was handcuffed, walking to the land border post with a bag in his hands. The handcuffs were removed before he crossed the border.
Das was sentenced to life imprisonment in June 1987 and was set to be released by the end of this year. Zardari remitted Das’ remaining jail term on March 27, three days before Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani visited India to watch the cricket World Cup semi-final featuring the teams of the two countries. The remission was granted to honour an appeal made by India’s Supreme Court to the Pakistan government to free Das. A two-judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court had appealed to Pakistan last month to remit the remaining period of Das’ sentence and release him on humanitarian grounds.