Sarabjit’s family returns home, wants Manmohan to quit

Attari (Punjab), May 1 (IANS) Holding both the Indian and Pakistan governments responsible for his plight, the family of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh Wednesday returned home determined to pursue the case with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the Congress president and others.

The distraught family said Manmohan Singh should quit for having failed to save Sarabjit, who is battling for life in a Lahore hospital.

“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,” an upset Dalbir Kaur, Sarabjit’s elder sister, told reporters at the Attari border.

Besides Dalbir Kaur, Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet 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.

Dalbir Kaur said she would not eat till the Indian government takes concrete action to save him.

“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, Guru.

The family has said they were dissatisfied with the way Sarabjit was being treated and had been kept in the dark about his condition.

“We are leaving for Delhi today evening. I will meet the prime minister, Sonia Gandhi and (Salman) Khurshid to plead with them to save Sarabjit. We are very dissatisfied with the central government as no steps were taken earlier to save Sarabjit’s life. The government abandoned its citizen,” Dalbir Kaur said in a choked voice.

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 his medical condition by the Pakistani doctors. Please save him. Bring him back to India for treatment. Take him abroad (for treatment). Please send Indian doctors to examine his condition. Just do something.”

“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 Taliban threat to my life,” she said.

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

“We met him (Sarabjit) five times. He did not realise that his family was with him. Please bring him back. We have no trust on (Pakistani) doctors,” Sarabjit’s daughter Swapandeep added.

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.

Sarabjit’s family claims he is innocent, and was arrested when he crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated state.

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

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