Surjeet Singh, the Indian prisoner who was jailed in Pakistan for more than 31 years, has been repatriated to India, following the announcement of his release Thursday morning.
Pakistani officials escorted Singh to the Wagah border, where he was handed over to Indian authorities. Over 300 fishermen were also released to a team placed at the border as a gesture of goodwill.
Soon after his release from Kot Lakhpat Jail, an elated Surjeet expressed happiness and stated that he was eagerly waiting to see his family.
"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," he told reporters, according to IBN Live.
According to Indian news agency Press Trust of India (PTI), Surjeet met his fellow inmates in jail to bid them farewell. He reportedly requested the jail authorities to serve him 'sewai' ahead of his impending release.
Surjeet was arrested on spying charges and was sentenced to death during Zia-ul Haq's regime in 1985. But his sentence was commuted to life in 1989 and his jail term ended in 2004.
Surjeet's release was announced earlier on Wednesday following a goof-up by Pakistani officials who first informed that they are releasing Sarabjit Singh. Sarabjit, who was alleged to be an Indian spy, was arrested for his involvement in the 1990 bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed at least 10 people.
Several hours after the misconstrued reports were aired on TV channels, the Pakistan president's office clarified that it was not Sarbajit but Surjeet who will be released from the Lahore jail.
"I think there is some confusion. First, it is not a case of pardon. More importantly, it is not Sarabjit. It is Surjeet Singh, son of Sucha Singh. His death sentence was commuted in 1989 by President (Ghulam) Ishaq (Khan) on the advice of (then premier) Benazir Bhutto," Zardari's spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Indian External Affairs Minister SM Krishna and Home Minister P Chidambaram have appealed to Pakistan to also release Sarabjit Singh, who has been held in Kot Lakhpat Jail for the past 22 years.