Indian national beaten to death by Pak prison staff: Lawyer
Lahore: A Pakistani lawyer today reiterated his claim that an Indian national, who was serving a five-year jail term for spying, was beaten to death by prison staff while another advocate said he would approach the Lahore High Court to direct authorities for a probe into the matter.
Chambail Singh was declared dead on arrival by doctors at the state-run Jinnah Hospital on January 15.
Tehseen Khan, a Christian lawyer who recently completed a 42-month sentence for fraud at Kot Lakhpat Jail, claimed Singh died after being beaten by prison staff.
"On January 15, I saw some three jail staff beating Chambail Singh over some issue. He was beaten severely and I think he died because of this," Khan told PTI.
Prison officials have refuted Khan`s claim and said Singh died of an apparent heart attack.
Kot Lakhpat Jail`s Additional Superintendent Ishtiaq Ahmed told PTI that Singh was taken to hospital after he developed chest pains while having breakfast on January 15.
"We shifted him to Jinnah Hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead," he said.
In a related development, Awais Sheikh, the lawyer for Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, said he would file a petition in Lahore High Court to ascertain the cause of Chambail Singh`s death.
"I have named the Punjab government, the federal Interior Ministry and the Superintendent of Kot Lakhpat Jail as respondents. I will ask the court to find out the measures put in place to protect other Indian prisoners, including Sarabjit Singh," Sheikh said.
A total of 33 Indian prisoners are currently being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail.
Authorities have launched a judicial inquiry into the death of Chambail Singh.
Judicial magistrate Afzal Abbas has already recorded the statements of 14 Indian prisoners who were in the same barrack as Singh.
Doctors at Jinnah Hospital are yet to conduct an autopsy on Singh`s body, officials said.
The magistrate is expected to finalise his report only after the autopsy is done.
Singh hailed from Jammu and Kashmir and is believed to have been in his sixties, Indian officials said. Initial media reports had claimed he was aged about 40.
He was serving a five-year prison term for alleged involvement in espionage.
The records of Kot Lakhpat Jail state that Singh was arrested near the border at Sialkot in 2010. He was brought to the jail last June.
Singh was to complete his term in 2015.