India seeks Sarabjit, family asks PM to quit (Intro Roundup)

Attari/New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) India Wednesday made a fervent appeal to Pakistan to release the critically injured death row prisioner Sarabjit Singh or at least to shift him to a third country for “proper treatment”, while his fuming family hit out at both New Delhi and Islamabad and asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to quit.

India once again asked Pakistan to release Sarabjit on “humanitarian and sympathetic grounds”, and said “this is not the time for invoking legal and bureaucratic reasons for not taking the right steps to save a human life”.

Sarabjit’s family, including his two daughters, returned to India through the Attari border from Lahore, where they had gone to meet him in a hospital.

An angry and upset Dalbit Kaur, Sarabjit Singh’s elder sister, said she would not eat till the Indian government takes concrete action to save her brother.

“I feel ashamed that the government of my country failed to save his life despite the threats to his life.”

“The worthlessness of this government has been exposed. Manmohan Singh should quit immediately,” she told reporters at the Attari border checkpost after her three-day visit to Lahore to see her critical ly injured brother.

Besides Dalbir Kaur, Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur and daughters Swapandeep and Poonam crossed the international border gates at Attari-Wagah at 11.30 a.m. They were immediately escorted by security officials to the briefing room of the Border Security Force (BSF) at Attari, 30 km from Amritsar.

The family reached Delhi later in the night and has sought meetings with the prime minister, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

“I have an appointment with Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde for 10 a.m. Thursday. By noon, meetings with the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi and Khurshid are likely to be finalised,” Dalbir Kaur told IANS.

“I think that there was a conspiracy by the Indian and Pakistani governments. We hanged (Ajmal) Kasab and Afzal Guru, they have assaulted Sarabjit,” she alleged, referring to the hanging of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack accused Kasab, a Pakistani national, and parliament strike convict Afzal Guru.

Refuting reports that Sarabjit had been declared brain dead, Dalbir Kaur said: “He is still alive. His body parts show some movement. We were not being told of his medical condition by the Pakistani doctors.”

“There was a big conspiracy to assault him. I am apprehensive that they (Pakistani authorities) might do something to him now that we are back. Once I meet the leaders in Delhi, I will go back to Pakistan despite being told by security that there is a Taliban threat to my life,” she said.

Concerned at Sarabjit Singh’s deteriorating condition, India asked Pakistan to send him to a third country for “proper treatment” and said “every endeavour” should be made to save his life.

“We believe that every endeavour should be made to save his life,” said a statement issued here by the external affairs ministry.

Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur said she wants her husband back. “My husband is still alive. Please save him. I appeal with folded hands. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi are sleeping on his plight,” she said.

“We met him (Sarabjit) five times. He did not realise that his family was with him. Please bring him back. We have no trust in (Pakistani) doctors,” an emotionally charged Swapandeep said.

The family had gone to Pakistan Sunday to meet Sarabjit, who has been admitted to Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital after being brutally assaulted by fellow prisoners last week in the city’s Kot Lakhpat jail. They were given a 15-day emergency visa to visit Pakistan.

However, the family returned after only three days to take up the case with the Indian government.

Sarabjit, 49, had suffered critical head injuries in the unprovoked and sudden assault by four to five prisoners April 26. He has been on ventilator life support since.

He has been 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.

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