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Thursday, May 2, 2013

brutal attack in Kot Lakhpat jail kills Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh


Here are the starting lines of a newsitem in a Yemanese newspaper :  In most Western countries, a minor land dispute or the killing of a donkey would be settled in the courtroom – that is, if the incident even made it that far. But here, revenge killings over seemingly minor incidents are on the rise, claiming thousands of innocent lives.      

The sad news is that ‘Sarabjit Singh’, the Indian death row prisoner in Pakistan, died in a Lahore hospital early on Thursday of injuries sustained in an assault by inmates of a high-security jail, officials said. Sad was his life, languished in prison for more than 30 years; the appeal of the Indian Govt provided a ray of hope, now he is laid to rest brutally by an attack inside the prison….. who is to blame ~ Pak for not able to protect and provide justice to a prisoner or the Indian Govt for not taking any forceful action ? – more so because it appears to be a killing in repraisal.. it is more than 65 years since India attained Independence and Pakistan was created but Nations have not learnt to live in peace, if not in harmony. 

The lethal attack on Sarabjit Singh who was on the death row in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail for last 21 years for his alleged role in four bomb blasts in Lahore and Islamabad in 1990 in which 14 people were killed, is a classic example of unwritten, unspoken doctrine of reciprocity between India and Pakistan. It is difficult to believe that Sarabjit was hit on his head with bricks and blunt objects on 26 April by fellow Pakistani prisoners in a rush of blood and there was no larger conspiracy. There have been reports, attributed to Indian intelligence sources, that Lashkar-e-Taiba and Taliban planned the attack on Sarabjit in retaliation to the hangings of Pakistani national Ajmal Kasab  and Indian national who was in cahoots with Pakistan terror outfits Afzal Guru.  There have also been reports that Sarabjit Singh’s attackers Mudassar and Aftab have been foot soldiers of the LeT as well as the Tehree-e-Taliban, Pakistan. Apart from these two, Sarabjit was attacked by five other prisoners whose identity is not yet clear. These Pakistani prisoners had sharpened spoons and plates which they used to attack Sarabjit.  So it has all the ingredients of a conspiracy of involvement of militants and State intelligence in having an Indian serving jailhood eliminated.  

To equate Kasab with Sarabjit is dastardly…… men like Sarabjit were the soldiers in this secret war. For decades, both India and Pakistan had relied on trans-border operators to spy on each other’s militaries. There were some who agreed to do so in return for the right to smuggle alcohol, gold, electronics and heroin. There were others, too, who volunteered, driven by patriotism. But whether they were providing intelligence or did they ever participated in bombing and other terror activities would be debated endlessly.  India has received the worst ~ be it 26/11 or planned bombing on civilian targets, killing and maiming innocents.  

The Punjab government on Thursday announced that Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Lahore hospital after a brutal attack on him, would be given a state-level funeral after his body is handed over and brought back to India. The chief minister also demanded a probe into Sarabjit’s death. Expressing anguish is alright whether giving a state-level funeral would be is doubtful; better if  his family is taken care of the State.  

The chief minister urged the central government to raise the issue of Sarabjit’s death at the international level. Sarabjit, 49, had suffered critical head injuries after an unprovoked and sudden assault by five to six prisoners April 26 in the Kot Lakhpat jail.
Sarabjit, a resident of Bhikhiwind town in the border district of Tarn Taran, was 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. Sarabjit’s family claims that he was innocent and was arrested when he crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated state. Sarabjit Singh’s family has demanded that his body be handed over to them and that he be declared a “martyr”.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday said it was “particularly regrettable” that Pakistan “did not heed the pleas…to take a humanitarian view” of the case of Sarabjit Singh who died after being attacked in a Lahore jail. “Particularly regrettable that the Govt of Pakistan did not heed the pleas… to take a humanitarian view of this case,” tweeted Manmohan Singh after Sarabjit Singh died Thursday in Lahore’s Jinnah hospital. Tweet in IPL may be entertaining but we expect action from the Govt not mere sympathy and tweets.  

Some Pak media stated that no decision had been made about handing over the body to Sarabjit Singh’s relatives or to Indian authorities. Sarabjit had spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons. His mercy petitions had been rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf. In 2008, the Pakistan People’s Party-led government put off Sarabjit Singh’s execution for an indefinite period.

There will be claim that the criminals responsible for the barbaric and murder of Sarabjit Singh must be brought to justice; this will echo for some short time and later will get buried in the muddle. There could be hundreds of more Sarabjits languishing in Pak jail and the Govt need to take action to bring them out, if they are not involved in any criminal activities over there.

Feeling sad for Sarabjit and his kith and kin !!

With regrets – S. Sampathkumar.
2nd May 2013.

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