Indian national Surjeet Singh returned to his homeland Thursday morning after three decades of captivity in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail. He has been freed from the Pakistan prison under the orders of President Asif Ali Zardari.
Amongst the numerous tales of cross-border stories, director Yash Chopra's older film "Veera-Zara" has certainly depicted the real-life tragedy of Singh, who since his disappearance in 1981 has reunited with his family after 31 long years.
Surjeet, 69, was probably in his late 30s since his arrest, which occurred when he accidently crossed the Indian border into Pakistan's frontier. Officials there then arrested him over spying charges during Zia-ul-Haq's regime.
After almost five-years of proceedings in the court, Surjeet was given death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985.
Later in 1989, the sentence was reduced to life-time imprisonment of 25-years under the orders of Ghulam Ishq Khan, who was then President of Pakistan from 1988 to 1993.
Surjeet used to live with his wife Harbans Kaur and four kids in the village called Fidda, 38 kms from Ferozepur, when he suddenly went missing one day.
He was reportedly working for the Punjab police department before getting arrested in Pakistan.
After receiving no news of Surjeet his family presumed that he was no more.
However, the mystery of his sudden disappearance troubled his family all these years. It was only seven-years back that the family discovered that Surjeet was alive and lodged in jail.
In a letter addressed to his family, Surjeet wrote that he was well alive and will soon be released. However, he failed to mention the reason of him being jailed and his purpose of entering Pakistan in 1981.
It was his elder son, who after learning about his whereabouts, made efforts to rescue his father back to his homeland with the help of a Pakistani lawyer. However, Surjeet's wife claimed that the family did not get any support from the Indian government.
"My husband sacrificed his whole life for the nation but successive governments just disowned us and our repeated attempts to seek help from various state and central authorities went in vain," Harbans Kaur said.
Surjeet, who hasn't heard even once from his family in three decades, is now faced with several tragedies with regards to his loved ones. One of his younger sons, Jaswinder, died of brain disease in 2005, and in 2003, his father Succha Singh also passed away. Surjeet also discovered that seven of his nine siblings are no more.
Though Surjeet's release from prison has been delayed five years after the completion of his life sentence in 2005, his family is nonetheless overjoyed over his release on Thursday, and is now looking forward to a new life with the head of their family.
"Surjeet means coming alive again. Now, he has got a second life. And I always knew that he is alive," wife Harbans Kaur, told a national daily in an interview.
His homecoming on June 28 brought forth a new life for his wife, who in the absence of the family's sole bread earner, singlehandedly raised his four children and took care of the entire household.
"During my imprisonment I often remembered my family and children. Today I am very happy. I will go to the Golden Temple to pray and hug my children," an elated Surjeet Singh, said in a brief television interview.
Singh has now confirmed the spying allegations by Pakistan officials by saying, "Yes I went there for spying."