Zee Media Bureau
Lahore/Amritsar: With Indian death row prisoner in Pakistan Sarabjit Singh slipping into deep coma and the doctors in a Lahore hospital describing as "slim" the chances of survival, his family on Monday appealed to the Indian government to bring him back home for treatment.
Meanwhile, under intense political pressure, the government of Pakistan on Sunday evening granted permission for consular access to Sarabjit Singh who was attacked by his jail inmates on Friday afternoon.
In a statement, the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "Pakistan government has provided second consular access to Indian diplomats stationed in Lahore. The family members will be able to visit Sarabjit Singh whenever they want."
The family members of Sarabjit, who is said to be in a critical state, met him at the MA Jinnah Hospital and the prisoner’s sister Dalbir Kaur told reporters that he was in an extremely tragic condition.
"His stomach was bloated. His face was swollen up. He was beaten up so badly," she was quoted as saying.
Saddened with Sarabjit’s tragic condition, his hapless family today pleaded for help from the Indian government, which said it would do everything it could to bring him home.
Sarabjit`s family arrived in Lahore city of Pakistan from Amritsar Sunday afternoon to be with him. After meeting him at the Jinnah Hospital, the family pleaded that he be allowed to be taken back to India or any other country immediately for treatment.
"When we met him in the ICU, he was just lying there. Doctors told us that his condition was critical. Please help us to save my brother`s life," Sarabjit`s elder sister Dalbir Kaur said in Lahore. She is accompanied by his wife Sukhpreet Kaur, and two daughters, Swapandeep and Poonam.
"I plead to our government with folded hands. Please take him to any country for his treatment. Don`t waste time, save him. So far, when I tried to fight for his freedom, I only got hollow assurances," she said.
Doctors at the hospital said that Sarabjit`s condition was "critical" and "chances of his survival are slim".
Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur responded later in the evening, promising all help.
"I think at the moment the first priority is to stabilize him. I don`t suppose you could really move him in this stage. But we can certainly do everything we can. We have done it in the past and the matter has been taken up at every level," Preneet Kaur told reporters.
She said the government has always brought up the topic of Sarabjit at every level with Pakistan to let him come home on humanitarian grounds.
Sarabjit, 49, suffered critical head injuries in the assault by four to five prisoners with bricks and prison plates in Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore Friday. He has been in Pakistan prisons for over 22 years.
"I want to know how the iron rods, bricks, cutters and other things reached inside the prison to carry out the attack on Sarabjit. It was a big conspiracy," Dalbir Kaur said. Sarabjit`s lawyer in Pakistan, Awais Shiekh, also alleged that Sarabjit was attacked under a conspiracy.
"Singh was diagnosed on Saturday with 3/15 Glasgow coma scale (GCS); that elaborates upon his critical state," one of the doctors treating him told the Pakistan daily Dawn.
The doctor said the GCS was a neurological scale aimed at assessing level of consciousness after profound head injury and the reading of 3/15 indicated deep unconsciousness.
The doctor said that Sarabjit had suffered a critical bone fracture when he was taken to the Jinnah Hospital`s surgical emergency Friday evening.
During clinical assessment, it was established that Sarabjit had diffused brain injury over a widespread area of his head that led to unconsciousness.
Doctors said that surgical intervention cannot be carried out till Sarabjit`s condition improves.
Sarabjit is being kept in a separate intensive care unit in unprecedented police security and no one is being allowed to see him except doctors.
First Secretary in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad CS Das visited the hospital too.
Before crossing over to Pakistan from the Attari-Wagah checkpost on the international border, 30 km from Amritsar, Sarabjit`s family offered prayers at Harmandir Sahib, the holiest of Sikh shrines in Amritsar, popularly known as the Golden Temple, Sunday morning.
In New Delhi, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes summoned officials of the ministries of External Affairs and Home over the issue of helping Sarabjit. It also directed the government to send a team of specialist Indian doctors to Pakistan for Sarabjit`s treatment, commission vice chairman Raj Kumar Verka said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sunday accused the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government of failing to ensure safety of Sarabjit and demanded that he be immediately brought back to India for treatment.
Sarabjit has been on death row in Pakistan since 1990 after being convicted by Pakistani courts for bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan, which left 14 people dead. His family claims he is innocent, and that he crossed over to Pakistan in August 1990 in an inebriated state, and was arrested there.
With Agency inputs