Saturday, April 27, 2013

Sarabjit\'s family seek visas to Pakistan

AMRITSAR, April 27, 2013

With Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh is in coma at a Lahore hospital after being fatally assaulted by fellow prisoners, his family members in Punjab said on 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 in Amritsar on 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," Ms. Dalbir Kaur told IANS.

The family was left shocked on Friday evening after hearing that Sarabjit Singh was critically injured following an attack by 5-6 prisoners in the Lahore prison. A sobbing Ms. 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.

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. Ms. 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," Mr. 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.
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