Amritsar/New Delhi, April 27 (IANS) Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh continued to be critical in a hospital in Pakistan’s Lahore city even as his family members said that they would go there Sunday to look after him.
Four of Sarabjit’s family will cross over to Pakistan Sunday to visit him in Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, where he has been admitted after a brutal assault. Doctors, according to reports, said that Sarabjit was in “deep coma”.
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued the visas to the family Saturday evening as a special case.
“We have got the visas and we will be crossing over to Pakistan tomorrow (Sunday) morning. Our (visa) papers will reach here (Amritsar) by the evening,” Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur told IANS in Amritsar.
She said that they will cross over to Pakistan on foot from the Attari-Wagah joint check-post, 30 km from here, Sunday. Dalbir will be accompanied by Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur and daughters Swapandeep and Poonam.
“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 reports only through news channels and his lawyer,” said Dalbir.
Dalbir Kaur herself had taken ill Saturday morning, and had to be examined by a doctor after she complained of uneasiness and chest pain. She was stable later in the day.
India’s external affairs ministry facilitated the visas for the family members. Raj Kumar Verka, vice chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, whom Sarabjit’s family met Saturday in Amritsar, flew to New Delhi later with the documents to facilitate their visas.
In Lahore, authorities set up a medical board to treat Sarabjit, media reports said.
“A high-powered medical board has been constituted to treat the patient,” Mahmood Shaukat, the principal of Allama Iqbal Medical College, told Dawn.
Shaukat said Sarabjit’s condition was “critical”. A separate room has been temporarily converted into an ICU for his treatment.
Sarabjit was admitted to the hospital after being assaulted by fellow prisoners in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat prison Friday. He suffered critical head injuries in the unprovoked and sudden assault by four to five prisoners with bricks and plates.
Police in Lahore have registered a case of attempt to murder against two prisoners, Aamir and Mudassar, who viciously attacked Sarabjit, a media report said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said the murderous attack on Sarabjit was “very sad”.
“Yes, it is very sad, some inmates attacked him in jail. I think that is a very sad development,” he told reporters on the sidelines of a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
In Sarabjit’s hometown Bhikiwind, and in Amritsar and Patiala, people have been gathering to protest the vicious attack.
Shocked by the murderous assault on Sarabjit, a sobbing Dalbir Kaur Friday claimed that her brother had apprehended such an attack as he had earlier received threats from fellow prisoners.
“Some prisoners had been threatening him. It was a conspiracy, he was deliberately attacked. Why was he not protected… I want to go to Pakistan immediately,” she had said.
Meanwhile, officials of the Indian High Commission arrived in Lahore, 50 km from Amritsar, to eenquire about Sarabjit’s condition.
Sarabjit has been on death row in Pakistan since 1990 after being convicted for bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that left 14 people dead.
His family claims he is innocent, having inadvertently crossed into Pakistan in August 1990 in an inebriated state, only to be arrested.
Police in Pakistan however claim that Sarabjit Singh, known as Manjit Singh, was involved in terrorist strikes.
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 jail staff.
Chamel Singh, 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 – injury marks had reportedly been found on the body.
His body was returned last month.
His family alleged he was killed in the prison, but no probe was carried out by the Pakistani authorities.