New Delhi/Islamabad, April 29 (IANS) India Monday appealed to Pakistan to release critically injured Sarabjit Singh on humanitarian grounds but a Pakistani medical board ruled that the Indian death row prisoner would continue to get treatment in that country.
India’s ministry of external affairs (MEA) asked Pakistan to take a “sympathetic and humanitarian” view on Sarabjit, who is battling for life after being attacked in jail in Lahore, while ministers asked opposition parties not to play “petty politics” and cooperate to help Sarabjit.
The possibility of transferring Sarabjit Singh to India for treatment could be considered in order to provide him the “best medical treatment available here”, the ministry said.
“In view of the recent tragic events and present circumstances, we once again appeal to the government of Pakistan to take a sympathetic and humanitarian view of this case, and release Sarabjit Singh,” it said in a statement.
India has also reiterated its demand that the attack on Singh “be thoroughly investigated to identify those who were responsible and to ensure that they are punished. It is the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan to ensure the safety and security of all Indian prisoners in their custody,” the statement said.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid has said: “We have been concerned of getting him (Sarabjit) back to India. We have been repeatedly pushing the matter. We have pulled out everything we know in diplomacy to reach out for this matter.”
The appeal to release Sarabjit came after his family, which is already in Lahore, pleaded that he be taken to any other country for treatment immediately.
“Please take him to any other country for better treatment. Please save his life,” Sarabjit’s sister, Dalbir Kaur, pleaded through news channels.
Dalbir Kaur, along with Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur and daughters Swapandeep and Poonam, arrived in Lahore Sunday afternoon from Amritsar to see Sarabjit at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital.
The MEA statement said that officials of the Indian High Commission were in touch with medical authorities at the Jinnah Hospital “and we would like to consider the option of transferring Sarabjit Singh to India so that he can benefit from the best medical treatment available here”.
Based on the most recent medical bulletin put out by doctors treating Sarabjit, “it is clear that his condition remains critical. We share the anguish and concern of his family members, and our prayers will remain with them”, the statement said.
However, a medical board formed by Pakistan’s Punjab government to take a view on the Indian prisoner’s condition Monday held that Sarabjit will continue to receive treatment in Pakistan.
The four-member medical panel shot down the possibility of Sarabjit being sent abroad for specialised treatment and decided that he would continue to be treated in Pakistan, Geo News reported Monday.
Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital principal Mahmood Shaukat, who heads the panel, conducted an examination of Sarabjit and his two CT scan reports.
Sarbajit suffered severe head injuries and surgery was not possible at this stage, according to the medical board.
Sarabjit was admitted to the Lahore hospital after a vicious attack on him by some of the prisoners at the Kot Lakhpat jail April 26. He is in coma. His family has arrived in Pakistan on a special visa issued by the Pakistani government.
A Pakistani daily Monday in its editorial said that the attack on Sarabjit could have serious implications for Pakistan-India ties.
Sarabjit Singh’s “fate has been caught between India and Pakistan’s problematic relationship that hardly saw smooth and steady sailing all these years. His mercy petition remains pending”, said an editorial in the Daily Times.
In India, while the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) blamed the central government for not taking adequate steps to ensure Sarabjit’s safety in the Pakistani jail before the murderous assault on him, a central minister asked parties not to play “petty politics” on the issue.
Parties should not play petty politics, but come together to provide relief to the family of Sarabjit Singh, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said Monday.
“Some people are trying to make political gains out of this issue. We should work together and provide relief to him (Sarabjit) and his family instead of indulging in petty politics,” Shukla told reporters.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari also said that political responses to the murderous attack on Sarabjit in the Lahore jail needed to be cautious.