Sarabjit a national martyr, says Badal

Chandigarh, May 2 (IANS) Expressing deep anguish over the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Thursday termed him as a “national martyr who suffered unspeakable repression and torture with dignity”.

Strongly condemning “the inhuman treatment and brutal murder of Sarabjit Singh right under the nose of the Pakistani authorities”, Badal said that the whole incident was an “eminently avoidable tragedy”.

The chief minister said that the body of Sarabjit, who hailed from Bhikhiwind town of Punjab’s border district of Tarn Taran, would be cremated with full state honours.

He said that the Punjab government will provide government jobs to Sarabjit Singh’s two daughters. “We will also stand by the family for whatever help they need,” he added.

Badal lambasted the union government for its inept handling of the Sarabjit case, terming it as “a gross diplomatic failure and a sign of weakness on the part of government of India”.

The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal Thursday demanded an independent inquiry into the “cold blooded murder” of Sarabjit Singh in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail.

In a statement issued here, Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal said that an inquiry by International Committee of Red Cross “was imperative to expose the utter human rights violations in this case”.

Sukhbir Badal said: “India should push Pakistan for an independent probe into Sarabjit’s death. The way he was butchered in the jail is a direct violation of human rights.”

He said that the central government had failed to protect the life of its citizen. “The whole country is angry with the lame-duck attitude of the union government.”

Sarabjit, 49, died early Thursday after suffering critical head injuries after unprovoked and sudden assault by fellow prisoners April 26 in the Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Sarabjit 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 claimed that he was innocent and was arrested when he crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated state.

Police in Pakistan, however, claimed that Sarabjit Singh, known to them as Manjit Singh, was involved in terrorist strikes.

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