Ferozepur (Punjab), June 28: Hundreds gathered in Phidde village of Punjab’s Ferozepur district to give a rousing welcome to Surjeet Singh, who returned home after more than 30 years of incarceration in Pakistan. Relatives distributed sweets and burst crackers to mark his return.
Surjeet, 69, was given a tumultuous and teary-eyed welcome as a near stampede-like situation was witnessed when hundreds of residents of the village and nearby areas gathered in the village, 35 km from Ferozepur town (260 km from Chandigarh).
Family members, relatives and friends assembled at the house of Kulwinder Singh, Surjeet’s son, to celebrate his home-coming and gave him a hero’s welcome. They distributed sweets and burst fire crackers.
Surjeet’s wife, Harbans Kaur, who could not meet him at Attari border checkpost where he crossed over from Pakistan into India, owing to the chaos on his arrival, met him in the village.
“I am very happy to be back with the family and meet my children,” Surjeet said after returning home after over three decades in Pakistani jails.
Held in Pakistan on spying charges in the early 1980s, Surjeet was released from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail early Thursday and made the road journey to Wagah, on the Pakistan side of the border, before entering India.
Surjeet looked weary after the hectic day of his release from Lahore. Following the grand welcome at Attari border checkpost, he offered prayers at Harmandar Sahib, the holiest of Sikh shrines popularly known as the Golden Temple, in Amritsar before arriving in his village.
As the car carrying Surjeet neared the village, he was virtually lifted by villagers and taken on an open vehicle through the village to his house.
After reaching the Indian soil, Surjeet, a former trooper, had promptly admitted that he had indeed been sent to spy for India. He was arrested inside Pakistan 1982 on charges of spying and sentenced to death. His death penalty was later commuted.
He said he would rest in the village and meet people in the next 2-3 days before approaching the government for his next course of action.