We want to go to Pakistan immediately: Sarabjit's family
Amritsar: With Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh in coma at a Lahore hospital after being fatally assaulted by fellow prisoners, his family members in Punjab said Saturday that they wanted to leave for Pakistan immediately to take care of him.
Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur, who has been spearheading the campaign for his release from Lahore's Kot Lakhpat prison, and his wife and two daughters, arrived here Saturday morning from their hometown Bhikhiwind, 50 km from here.
The family members met Raj Kumar Verka, vice chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, to demand that their request for visas to Pakistan be submitted with the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi.
"We want to be with Sarabjit in this difficult time. He is all alone. We don't even know what his condition is. We are getting the reports only through news channels and his lawyer," Dalbir Kaur told a news agency.
The family was left shocked Friday evening after hearing that Sarabjit Singh was critically injured following an attack by 5-6 prisoners in the Lahore prison. A sobbing Dalbir Kaur alleged that Sarabjit was apprehending an attack on himself for some time now as he was receiving threats from other inmates.
Sarabjit Singh was admitted to the intensive care unit of Lahore's Jinnah Hospital after the murderous attack on him. He reportedly suffered critical head injuries in the assault. He was attacked with bricks, sharp objects and plates.
The reason behind the assault was not immediately known. Doctors are battling to save his life, said an official of India's external affairs ministry. Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad are likely to get access to him Saturday.
The assault on Sarabjit comes a few months after the death of Indian prisoner Chamel Singh in the same Kot Lakhpat jail after he was allegedly assaulted by the jail staffers. Dalbir Kaur alleged that the attack on Sarabjit was "pre-meditated and deliberate".
"Some prisoners had been threatening him. It was a conspiracy and he was deliberately attacked. Why was he not protected... I want to go to Pakistan immediately," she said.
"If our government had taken steps, this attack would not have taken place. I had met the home minister (Sushilkumar Shinde), (minister of state for external affairs) Preneet Kaur and all others with letters mentioning that Sarabjit Singh could be attacked. No one did anything and the attack has taken place," she added.
Pakistan human rights activist Ansar Burney, who has been pleading for clemency to Sarabjit Singh, also said the attack looked "suspicious".
"The attack looks suspicious. Someone could be behind this. No bricks or other material can reach the place where Sarabjit had been kept. This must be thoroughly investigated," Burney told news channels from Karachi.
The Indian High Commission has urged the Pakistani government to provide all necessary medical and other support to him, said officials in New Delhi.
Sarabjit Singh has been on a death row in Pakistan since 1990 after being convicted by Pakistani courts for bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan cities which left 14 people dead. Sarabjit's family claims that he had inadvertently crossed into Pakistan in August 1990 in an inebriate state and was arrested there.
But police in Pakistan claimed Sarabjit Singh, who is known as Manjit Singh in that country, was involved in acts of terrorism.
A resident of Bhikhiwind township, along the India-Pakistan border, he has been languishing in Pakistani jails since then.
Chamel Singh, said to be in his 60s, was serving a five-year term for espionage and died at the Jinnah Hospital Jan 15. During an autopsy done on March 13 - nearly two months after his death - marks of injury had reportedly been found on the body.
His family alleged he was killed in the prison but no probe was carried out by Pakistani authorities. His body was returned to India last month.