Sarabjit gets a martyr's send-off; autopsy doctors say motive was to kill' (Roundup)
Bhikiwind (Punjab), May 3, 2012
Sarabjit Singh, the Indian prisoner who died after a murderous attack in a Lahore jail, was Friday cremated with full state honours of a martyr as tens of thousands of people joined in to bid him a tearful farewell.
Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur lit the pyre as thousands of people gathered to pay their last respects to the man, condemned as a terrorist in Pakistan and considered a martyr in India.
Sarabjit died Thursday in Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, six days after being attacked by fellow prisoners in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail April 26.
In Amritsar, a medical board of Indian doctors who conducted the second post-mortem on his body said that Sarabjit was assaulted "with the motive to kill". They said that he had been attacked with heavy blunt objects and had "massive head injuries". This belied the claim of Pakistani authorities that he was fatally injured in a "scuffle" with prisoners.
"The main motive was to kill the person. The face of the skull was completely smashed. Rather it was in two pieces. He died from massive head injuries," Gurjit Singh Mann, head of a medical panel of the Amritsar Medical College which conducted the second post-mortem examination after Sarabjit's body arrived in India, told media here.
Before the mortal remains of Sarabjit were consigned to flames, teary-eyed people - men, women, old and young, children and VIPs - were part of the last journey of a man who went through torture and despair for 23 years in Pakistani prisons, trying to prove that he was innocent.
A contingent of Punjab Police reversed arms and fired thrice in the air as a mark of respect to the 49-year-old who is said to have mistakenly crossed into Pakistan in 1990.
As Dalbir Kaur went around the coffin to pour water from an earthen pot, his family members, including wife Sukhpreet and daughters Swapandeep and Poonam, sobbed uncontrollably.
The man, who spent nearly 23 years in uncertainty in Pakistani prisons, in death went from being an ordinary farmer from a poor rural family to a being national hero.
"I have lost everything. But my fight for Indian prisoners (in Pakistani prisons) will continue," a shattered Dalbir Kaur said.
The virtual sea of humanity that thronged his funeral here shouted slogans against Pakistan and its leaders.
The crowds were so thick that every vantage point - be it a wall, roof, pole, vehicle or anything else - was taken over by people.
The cremation ground proved too small even to accommodate the VIPs, media and family members.
Thousands of people were held up outside the walls of the ground by a strong posse of Punjab Police to prevent a stampede.
Among those who placed wreaths on Sarabjit's coffin were Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Akal Takht chief Gurbachan Singh and Punjab's cabinet ministers.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who had met Dalbir Kaur in New Delhi Thursday, walked up to the cremation ground and placed a wreath on the coffin. He stood next to the coffin for a while with other leaders. He later embraced Dalbir Kaur after the cremation.
"A majority of the people did not even know him. But they were here to recognise the sacrifice Sarabjit Singh made for the country. This should be an eye-opener for the Pakistanis who murdered him in cold blood," Sarabjit's friend Balwinder Singh said.
The body, draped in the tricolour, was first kept in his house and later taken to a ground of the government school nearby so that people could pay their homage.
The Punjab government has announced a three-day state mourning. Shops and other establishments, including educational institutions in this town, remained closed Friday. They were shut Thursday too.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has announced a financial grant of Rs.1 crore for Sarabjit's family. He said Punjab would give government jobs to both his daughters.
Sarabjit's body was flown in a special Air India flight from Lahore to Amritsar Thursday. From Amritsar, it was transported to Bhikhiwind by a chopper.
On Thursday night, doctors from Amritsar Medical College conducted a post-mortem examination on the body at Patti, 40 km from Amritsar. The first autopsy was conducted by a Pakistani medical board in Lahore before Sarabjit's body was handed over to India.
Mann said that the injuries on Sarabjit were inflicted with "heavy blunt weapons", including bricks.
Asked if only two people could have attacked Sarabjit, as maintained by the Pakistani authorities, Mann said: "There might be more than two people who attacked him. He was a well-built man."
Mann said that Sarabjit's body had fractures on the skull, broken ribs and some other injuries.
He said that the Pakistani authorities had only sent a death certificate with Sarabjit's body.
About reports that certain organs like heart and kidneys had been removed from Sarabjit's body before it was sent to India, Mann said: "We presume that these were removed as standard procedure to send the viscera for examination. We will try to find the exact cause of death."
Mann said that there were inconsistencies in what the Pakistani authorities were saying about Sarabjit's cause of death.
The Pakistan government had claimed that Sarabjit was injured in a "scuffle" with two fellow prisoners and it was not a pre-meditated attack to kill him.
Sarabjit's family gave its go ahead for the second post-mortem examination after his body arrived in India Thursday evening. The family said they had no trust on the findings of the post-mortem examination done by the Pakistani medical board.
He had been arrested in Pakistan since August 1990. Pakistan accused him of being an Indian spy and of carrying out bomb attacks. His family insisted he was an innocent man........ (IANS)////NRIpress.com
Sarabjit dead, India-Pakistan ties take another nosedive (Evening Lead)
New Delhi/Lahore, May 2 (IANS) Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh died in a Pakistan hospital early Thursday, succumbing to his injuries six days after being attacked by his fellow inmates in jail and pushing the fraught India-Pakistan equation to a new low.
At 12.45 a.m. Pakistan time (1.15 a.m. IST), Lahore's Jinnah hospital announced that Sarabjit was dead, bringing an end to a 23-year saga that began on a fateful August day in 1990 when he crossed over to Pakistan.
While Pakistan declared him a terrorist and convicted him for blasts in Lahore and Multan that left 14 dead, his family claimed that the devoted brother, husband and father from a poor rural family in Punjab had crossed over in an inebriated state when he was just 26.
Most of the years since were spent in anonymity but in death Sarabjit -- who had been brutally assaulted with bricks and plates in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail April 26 and had slipped into a deep coma - became the latest bone of contention between the troubled neighbours.
India's ministry of external affairs did not mince its words either and said Sarabjit's death was "put simply, the killing of our citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities".
From Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), leaders across the political spectrum expressed their deep anguish at the untimely death of the 49-year-old.
"I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Sarabjit Singh. He was a brave son of India who bore his tribulations with valiant fortitude," the prime minister said.
In a strongly worded statement, he said: "It is particularly regrettable that the government of Pakistan did not heed the pleas of the government of India, Sarabjit's family and of civil society in India and Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of this case."
As a string of VIPs, including Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, went to pay their condolences to Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur, the BJP upped the ante and demanded that diplomatic relations with Pakistan be scaled down.
"The level of diplomatic relations should be scaled down and for the time being Indian high commissioner to Pakistan should be called back," BJP president Rajnath Singh said.
Attacking the government on the emotive issue, others spoke out too, including Trinamool Congress' Mamata Banerjee who said: "This is the result of bad handling of the case."
But Dalbir Kaur, Sarabjit's doughty sister who waged a long and hard battle to highlight her brother's case, asked all political parties to come together and strengthen the government's hands.
"He was martyred for India. (Pakistan President Asif Ali) Zardari killed him because of elections," Dalbir Kaur told reporters here.
She said: "The entire country should come together. I appeal to all parties to strengthen the hands of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde."
Dalbir Kaur, who along with Sarabjit's wife and daughters returned from Pakistan Wednesday claiming they were not being given information on his condition, claimed Sarabjit had written to her that Pakistani authorities had asked him to undergo training in terror camps.
The post-mortem will be conducted Thursday morning, said Sarabjit's lawyer in Pakistan Awais Shiekh.
The body would be handed over to the Indian High Commission at the earliest, said the Pakistan foreign ministry. The government of Pakistan Punjab also ordered a judicial probe.
The body will be flown home in a special Indian aircraft.
Back home, his hometown of Bhikiwind, about 280 km from the Punjab capital Chandigarh, virtually shut down in grief. Some residents also gathered outside the local gurdwara and protested against Pakistan.
The Punjab government has offered jobs to Sarabjit's daughters and Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said he would be given a state-level funeral.
Scant consolation for his family. On April 30, 2009, Sarabjit was scheduled to face the gallows but his hanging was postponed indefinitely. Four years and two days later, he died in Pakistan - and not from the noose.
Sarabjit was India's brave son, says 'deeply saddened' PM (Lead)
New Delhi, May 2 (IANS) A "deeply saddened" Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday condoled the passing way of Sarabjit Singh and termed him a brave son of India.
"I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Sarabjit Singh. He was a brave son of India who bore his tribulations with valiant fortitude," the prime minister said in a statement.
The prime minister demanded that "the criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on Sarabjit must be brought to justice".
He regretted that the Pakistan government had not heeded the pleas of the Indian government to take a humanitarian view in the case.
"It is particularly regrettable that the government of Pakistan did not heed the pleas of the government of India, Sarabjit's family and of civil society in India and Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of this case."
Manmohan Singh said the government would bring Sarabjit's body back home. "May his soul be granted the peace that he could not enjoy in life. Government will make the arrangements to bring his remains home and for his last rites to be conducted in consultation with his family. The nation shares their profound grief with them," he added.
Punjab declares 3-day state mourning, Rs.1 crore for Sarabjit family
Chandigarh, May 2 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal Thursday declared a three-day state mourning in Punjab following the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan.
"The chief minister declared a three-day state mourning in Punjab. Flags will fly at half mast on all government buildings and there will be no official ceremonial functions during this period," a state government spokesman said here.
Badal, who spoke to Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur by phone, also announced a financial assistance of Rs.1 crore to Sarabjit's family.
He assured the family members that the Punjab government would extend all help and support to Sarabjit's widow and two daughters.
Badal has already announced that the both daughters will be given government jobs.
He had earlier announced state-level honours at the cremation of Sarabjit Singh in his hometown Bhikhiwind. The cremation will take place Friday afternoon.
Sarabjit Singh succumbed to injuries sustained in a brutal attack on him by fellow prisoners April 26 inside Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail.
Sarabjit's death a conspiracy: Dhumal
Shimla, May 2 (IANS) Former Himachal Pradesh chief minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal Thursday attributed the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan to "a planned conspiracy hatched in the jail".
"Sarabjit became the victim of a planned conspiracy with inhuman treatment," Dhumal said in a statement here.
He accused the Pakistan government for Sarabjit Singh's death, saying it was clearly involved in this conspiracy.
Dhumal said there was an atmosphere of fear and desperation in the country as people had lost faith in the central government.
Student activists of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) burnt Pakistan's flag on the Himachal Pradesh University campus here in protest over Sarabjit Singh's death.
Sarabjit Singh died Thursday in a Lahore hospital after being brutally beaten up by fellow inmates in jail April 26.
Srabjit's release, upset at Pakistan's U-turn
New Delhi/Islamabad, June 27, 2012: Pakistan's midnight U-turn on the release of Sarabjit Singh, suspected to have been done under pressure from its powerful military-ISI establishment, has not gone down well with India even as New Delhi Wednesday renewed its pitch for the death row prisoner's release and awaited clarity on the issue.
Family members and friends of Sarabjit Singh, who were Tuesday night jubilant when the news broke about Pakistan planning to release him, were "disappointed and shattered" at the midnight twist of events as Islamabad clarified that it was Surjeet Singh, another prisoner in Pakistani custody, who was being released.
Pakistan's U-turn on release of Sarabjit, a long-standing Indian request, has not gone down well with India and has cast a shadow over the talks between Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai and his Pakistani counterpart Jalil Abbas Jilani in New Delhi July 4-5.
"I have seen media reports about the impending release from imprisonment in Pakistan of Surjeet Singh, son of Sucha Singh. I welcome this decision and further renew our request to the president of Pakistan to release Sarabjit Singh," External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told reporters here.
Sarabjit has been in Pakistan's custody for well over two decades and faces a death sentence for his alleged complicity in a string of blasts in the Punjab province cities of Lahore and Multan in 1990.
Krishna's statement came after Pakistan did an inexplicable volte face about releasing Sarabjit Singh Tuesday night.
On June 26, the Pakistani media carried reports of Sarabjit getting a presidential pardon. However, Islamabad clarified around midnight that it was not Sarabjit but Surjeet Singh, his fellow inmate at Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, who would be released.
Admitting confusion over the issue, Krishna said he has also seen media reports and stressed that India was awaiting official communication from the Pakistan government and a report from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad on this issue.
Krishna, however, renewed request to the Pakistan government to take a lenient and humanitarian view and also release Sarabjit.
"As you are aware, the government of India has consistently urged the government of Pakistan, on several occasions, to take a sympathetic and humanitarian view in the case of Sarabjit Singh," he said.
"I also appeal to the government of Pakistan to release all Indian nationals who have completed their prison terms and request the release of all other Indians who are serving jail sentences in Pakistani prisons for petty crimes," Krishna said.
Senior ministers also backed Krishna in requesting Sarabjit's release on humanitarian grounds.
Pakistan should look at the case of the death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh sensitively and compassionately, Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni said in Thiruvananthapuram.
Pakistan claims that Sarabjit, who is known as Manjit Singh there, was involved in staging four blasts in Lahore and Multan in 1990, which claimed 14 lives. His family however, maintains that Sarabjit, a resident of border town of Bhikhiwind, had strayed across the border in an inebriated state in August 1990.
Surjeet, who has been in Pakistani custody for over 30 years, was captured near the India-Pakistan border on charges of spying during Zia-ul-Haq's tenure and was on the death row too, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1989.
"I think there is some confusion. First, it is not a case of pardon. More importantly, it is not Sarabjit. It is Surjeet Singh, son of Sucha Singh. His death sentence was commuted in 1989 by President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the advice of then prime minister Benazir Bhutto," presidential spokesperson Farhatullah Babar was quoted as saying by Geo News.
While the reasons for Pakistan's flip-flop are not clear, informed sources pointed out that Pakistan's powerful military establishment may have vetoed the government's decision.
Home Minister P. Chidambaram said it was difficult to figure out how and what happened.
The Bharatiya Janata Party asked the government to explain how Krishna could announce that Pakistan would release Sarabjit Singh but the name was later changed to Surjeet Singh.
The party's senior leader Yashwant Sinha accused the Pakistan government of buckling under the pressure from some terrorist organisations.
The Pakistani media has termed the flip-flop as an "international embarrassment" for the Pakistan government.......IANS/NRIpress.com
issue will be taken to international level : Pakistani rights activist,
New Delhi, Nov. 01, 2008
Sarabjit Singh's case will be taken up at the international level
if the Pakistan government refuses to change its decision to commute
the death sentence of the Indian prisoner to life imprisonment,
Pakistani rights activist,
Ansar Burney said in Kolkata on Friday.
The family members of Sarabjit Singh, who is on death row
in Pakistan, crossing the border at Attari on Wednesday. From
left are Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur, sister Dalbir Kaur,
and daughters Poonam and Swapandeep
"I will take up Sarabjit Singh's case at the international
level and mobilise strong public opinion if the Yousuf Gilani
government in Pakistan sticks to its decision to hang the Indian
prisoner" Burney, a former human rights minister, said in
Kolkata on Friday.
Burney who was instrumental in pursuing Sarabjit's case from
the beginning, said that he would like Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani
to keep his promise at his swearing in that he would commute the
death sentences of all condemned prisoners in Pakistani jails.
Photo from Getty Images by AFP/Getty Images
Sukhpreet Kaur (R), the wife of Indian prisoner held in Pakistan
Sarabjit Singh, his sister Dalbir Kaur (C) and her husband Baldev
Singh (2R) walk with Sukhpreet's daughters Swapandip (2L) and
Poonam (3L) as they wave to media representatives on their return
to India after meeting Sarabjit Singh at the Kot Lakhpat Central
jail on the outskirts of Lahore in Pakistan, at The Wagah Border
Post on April 29, 2008. Dalbir Kaur said that Pakistan demanded
that Pakistani prisoners in India should be released on the completion
of their sentence.
"I hope the prime minister will stand by his words and do
justice to Sarabjit," Burney said. "I am not in favour
of showing sympathy to terrorists, but at least 65 per cent of
the prisoners awaiting death in prisons in Pakistan are innocent
and they deserve to live," he said.
Burney was Kolkata to meet a woman in a hospital, who claims
herself to be a Pakistani citizen but suffers from memory loss.
No change in status of Sarabjit, says Pakistan
Meanwhile, Pakistan on Friday said there has been no change in
the status of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, awarded
capital punishment for alleged involvement in a string of bomb
blasts in Pakistan in 1990.
Asked whether Sarabjit would be freed in exchange for some Pakistani
prisoners being held in India, Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad
Sadiq said "status quo was being maintained in the case of
the Indian prisoner".
He declined to give further details.
Sadiq's comments came three days after reports that Sarabjit
had been shifted from death row cell to one for political prisoners
in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat jail.
There was no official word on the development but sources had
said that Punjab province's jail department had informed the federal
interior ministry about the shifting.
Sarabjit has been on death row since he was convicted of triggering
four blasts in 1990 that killed 14 people in the country.
Reports had said on Tuesday that he had been shifted from death
row to a normal cell at Lahore's Kot Lakhpat prison, in an indication
that he would not be hanged.
- Sarabjit Singh, also known as Manjit Singh, is an Indian citizen
held prisoner in Pakistan. He was convicted for his alleged involvement
in 1990 serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that killed 14
people. He claims that he is just a poor farmer and victim of
mistaken identity, who strayed into Pakistan from his village
located on the border.
- He has been given death sentence, but on April 29, 2008, his
hanging was deferred for 21 days.