LAHORE – Indian prisoner Surjeet Singh, who spent more than 30 years in jail here for spying and released on Thursday morning, crossed into India through Wagha border and promptly confessed to his crime, saying he was an agent of the Indian intelligence agency – Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Surjeet along with 315 fishermen was handed over to Indian authorities at Wagah border on Thursday morning. Captured by Pakistani security forces on charges of spying in the early 1980s, Surjeet was released from Kot Lakhpat Jail and deported to India through Wagah border on a police van amid tight security. The Ministry of Law and Justice had approved the release of the life sentence prisoner on Tuesday. He had completed his life term in jail.

Speaking to reporters at Wagah on the Pakistani side of the border, 61-year-old Surjeet said he was grateful for the way Pakistanis treated him. He had praises for Pakistan and seen hugging his Pakistani lawyer with a smiling face but just minutes after he crossed the Wagah Border into India, Surjeet was altogether a different man.

“I was a RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) agent. I had gone there for spying,” Surjeet told reporters soon after stepping on Hindustani soil, according to Indian media reports.

Surjeet also confessed that he had been sent to Pakistan to spy for Indian army.

He also complained that no one from Indian government had bothered about him after he had been arrested.

Escorted by police vehicles, Surjeet reached the Wagah border crossing at around 10:30 am where he was handed over to the Indian authorities. He was welcomed by his immediate family members from Ferozepur and around 300 villagers at the Wagah border, reports said.

Surjeet further told reporters at the Wagah that he was extremely delighted to return home to reunite with his family members after 30 years. He also informed that all Indian prisoners lodged in the Kot Lakpat Jail were treated well by the Pakistani authorities and he had no complaints.

Responding to another question, he said he would never return to Pakistan again. “If I will return again, the security agencies might suspect that I have come for spying again,” he told reporters here in Punjabi before crossing into India.

He further added that prisoners on both sides of the border should be released by the respective governments. He was of the view that the mix-up of Surjeet and Sarabjit happened due to similar names. “Both Sarabjit and Surjeet were written in a similar manner in Urdu,” he said, adding that he will do everything possible for the release of Sarabjit Singh.

Awais Sheikh, the Pakistani counsel for Surjeet, told reporters that the Indian national was arrested by Pakistani police on charges of spying during the regime of military ruler Zia-ul-Haq.

Surjeet was given the death sentence under the Pakistan Army Act in 1985. The death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1989 by then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. Reportedly, Surjeet had held meetings with other prisoners in Kot Lakhpat Jail to bid them farewell. According to Indian media reports, the families of Indian prisoners wished Sarabjit Singh would also be released soon.

Indian officials who were present at Wagah received more than 300 fishermen after they were repatriated to India by Pakistan Rangers.

There was confusion on Tuesday night when Pakistan said another Indian, Sarabjit Singh, would be freed but later it was clarified.

A few hours after media reports emerged that Pakistan was to free Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, the presidential spokesman clarified that authorities had actually ordered the release of Surjeet Singh and not Sarabjit Singh.

Sarabjit has been on death row for more than 21 years after being convicted of spying and four bombings, which left 14 dead in Lahore, Multan and Faisalabad in 1990.

India is still pressing Pakistan for release of Sarabjit as part of what is being seen here as a recent thaw in diplomatic relations between India and Pakistan.

In March 2008, Pakistan had released Kashmir Singh sentenced to death in Pakistan in 1973 for spying. Later, he had also admitted to spying.