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Live: Plane carrying Sarabjit's body lands in Amritsar

Updated: May 2, 2013, 4:06 PM IST
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Live: Plane carrying Sarabjit's body lands in Amritsar
Sarabjit Singh's family has reached his ancestral village Bhikhiwind in Punjab. His body will be cremated there on Friday.

Lahore/New Delhi: 9.45 pm: Sarabjit's body flown to his village Bhikiwind in Punjab and taken for autopsy.

7.53 pm: Plane carrying Sarabjit Singh's mortal remains lands in Amritsar. State officials receive Sarabjit's body at airport. His body will be cremated with full state honours on Friday at his ancestral village.

7.48 pm: Punjab government announces Rs 1 crore compensation for Sarabjit's family and declares a three-day state mourning.

7.20 pm: Pakistan Punjab interim CM Najam Sethi, in an exclusive interview to CNN-IBN, confirms that seven people have been suspended over Sarabjit Singh's death and a judicial probe has been ordered. Sethi also says that the jail authorities weren't aware of the threat to Sarabjit and that there was no evidence that the attack was planned.

7.10 pm: Flight carrying Sarabjit Singh's body takes off from Lahore airport. Body is expected to reach India shortly.

6.58 pm: Pakistan Foreign Affairs spokesperson Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry says, "We had given all facilities to Sarbajit in hospital. Unfortunately, he died of a heart attack. We have given accesses to his family and Indian embassy..This incident should not affect overall relation with India. Dialogue should continue in larger interest."

6.50 pm: Paperwork finished at Lahore airport. Flight carrying Sarabjit's body to take off shortly.

6.40 pm: Flight carrying Sarabjit's body from Lahore delayed by 30-40 minutes due to paperwork.

6.08 pm: Dr Raj Kumar Verka, Vice Chairman of the National Commission for SC/ST, says, "Sarabjit's body will reach around 7.00 to 7.30 pm."

5.40 pm: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar terms the death of Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan as "unfortunate" and says that he was not brought to India for treatment because of certain circumstances.

5.36 pm: Sarabjit's family reaches Bhikhiwind in Punjab. Crowds gather at Sarabjit's ancestral village and at Amritsar airport where his body will be received.

5.12 pm: Sarabjit Singh's body is expected to reach India shortly. His body will be brought to his hometown near Amritsar.

5.07 pm: Protests break out in Patna. BJP leaders take to the streets, chanting slogans against UPA government and Pakistan. "BJP believes that Sarabjit was murdered in Pakistan and our government did nothing to help him," they say.

4.40 pm: MoS External Affairs Preneet Kaur will receive Sarabjit's body when it arrives in India.

4.39 pm: Protests break out in Kolkata over Sarabjit's death. Protesters burn effigies of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

4.32 pm: Sarabjit Singh's body is being taken to Lahore airport by Indian High Commission officials.

4.30 pm: "Those responsible for the murder of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh will be brought to justice," Najam Sethi, the caretaker Chief Minister of Pakistan's Punjab province, today assured Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sahbarwal.

4.29 pm: Home Ministry issues advisory to all states asking them to step up security of all Pakistani prisoners lodged in their respective jails.

4.25 pm: MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin says that Pakistan did not consult India over removing Sarabjit's life support system. "We wanted Sarabjit to live for as long as possible. We never were consulted about removing Sarabjit's life support system." He added that India had no information on when Pakistan will hand over Sarabjit's autopsy report.

To another question, Akbaruddin says, "There are 215 Indian fishermen, 55 other Indian nationals currently lodged in various Pakistan jails."

4.21 pm: India rules out internationalising Sarabjit Singh's case. MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin says, "India and Pakistan are wedded to bilateralism and we will follow this pattern." He adds that Pakistan did not do enough to keep Sarabjit safe. "The norm worldwide is that the state is responsible for prisoners. So no arguments about Pakistan's responsibility for Sarabjit's safety."

4.06 pm: Sarabjit's body handed over to Indian officials in Pakistan.

3.56 pm: Indian government announces compensation of Rs 25 lakh to Sarabjit Singh's family.

3.46 pm: Plane leaves for Lahore from Delhi to bring back Sarabjit's body.

3:46 pm: Another post-mortem of Sarabjit Singh will be conducted when his body reaches Amritsar.

3:29 pm: Sarabjit Singh's post-mortem report will be released in Pakistan in three weeks.

3:09 pm: The post-mortem of Sarabjit Singh has been completed in Pakistan and his body will be handed over to Indian officials shortly.

2:44 pm: The Indian Foreign Secretary has spoken to his Pakistani counterpart asking him to speed up the process of handing over Sarabjit's body.

2:12 pm: Pakistan will hand over Sarabjit Singh's body to the Indian High Commission at 3:30 pm IST. The Indian Officials will reach the Pakistan hospital at 3 pm.

2:05 pm: The Indian High Commissioner will meet Pakistan Punjab's caretaker Chief Minister Najam Sethi at 3 pm.

1:38 pm: BJP President Rajnath Singh says if the government had taken proper steps then such incident could have been avoided. "I had urged the government to register strong protest against Pakistan when our soldiers were beheaded but the government did not do anything. The government should take prompt diplomatic steps to ensure safety of other Indians in Pakistani jails. We cannot deny the possibility of repeat such an incident with others."

1:35 pm: Ministry of External Affairs says, "Plane ready to leave for Lahore to bring back mortal remains of Sarabjit Singh. Waiting for final go ahead from Pakistan authorities. The plane will land back in Amritsar."

1:17 pm: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Sarabjit Singh's death was not a foreign policy failure. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Khurshid also said he hopes this comes as a lesson for Pakistan. "We hope that this comes as a lesson to Pakistan. This is not the time for the BJP to play politics. We don't see this as a foreign policy failure," Khurshid said.

1:03 pm: A team of doctors is still conducting Sarabjit Singh's autopsy in Pakistan, but the government says he died of cardiac arrest.

12:21 pm: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi hit out at the government over Sarabjit Singh's death saying it failed to put pressure on Pakistan. Speaking in Mangalore, "The government had the time to make the countries across the world aware about the case of Sarabjit. The government left the matter on the poor family, did not listen to the appeals of the family," Modi said.

12:11 pm: Sarabjit's family will go to Amritsar from Delhi in a special flight.

12:06 pm: Sarabjit Singh's death rocked Parliament with MPs raising slogans against Pakistan and entering the well of the House. A resolution condoling Sarabjit's death is likely to be brought in the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha was adjourned following the uproar.

11:50 am: A special plane is ready to leave any time for Pakistan to bring back Sarabjit Singh's body to India.

11:33 am: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and briefed him on Sarabjit Singh's death.

11:27 am: Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth said Sarabjit Singh's body will soon be flown back to India in a special aircraft. "Formalities are being completed, we are prepared to fly in the body from Lahore in a special aircraft," Ajit Seth said.

11:17 am: Amidst conflicting reports on the cause of Sarabjit's death, the Pakistan Foreign office has said in a statement that Sarabjit Singh died due to a cardiac arrest.

11:08 am: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has met Sarabjit Singh's family in Delhi.

10:56 am: Sarabjit Singh's sister said, "Asif Ali Zardari killed my brother for elections in Pakistan."

"The government should take steps to ensure the safety of other Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails. Now I shall fight for the other Indians in Pakistani jails," Dalbir Kaur said.

10:52 am: Sarabjit Singh's sister Dalbir Kaur lashed out at Pakistan for her brother's death and called for a war against the nation. She alleged that human rights activist Ansar Burney had asked for a huge amount to get Sarabjit back to India. "Had I paid Rs 25 crore to Ansar Burney, Sarabjit would have returned to India," Dalbir Kaur said.

Calling Pakistan 'coward', she said the political class of India should unite against Pakistan. She also called Sarabjit a martyr.

10:40 am: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal called Sarabjit Singh's death a diplomatic failure of the government of India.

10:28 am: External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Sarabjit Singh's death was a setback to people-to-people contact between India and Pakistan. "It's a terrible psychological, emotional setback for us," Khurshid said.

10:25 am: Manish Tewari also said that India will raise the issue at international forums as this is a gross violation of human rights.

10:17 am: The government called Sarabjit's death a cold-blooded murder. Addressing the media, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said, "Sarabjit has been murdered in cold blood in custody in the Pakistan state." He said Pakistan must account for his death. "The Pakistani establishment must account for his death. The Indian government has been pursuing the Pakistani government that a humanitarian view must be taken on Sarabjit Singh," Tewari said.

10:05 am: Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur condoled Sarabjit Singh's death saying, "I'm really very sorry for the family, they worked really hard to get Sarabjit released." Demanding answers from Pakistan, Kaur said, "It's sad and distressing. Pakistan needs to give us answers, a thorough investigation should be conducted on how it happened."

She also said it was wrong to say that the Ministry of External Affairs was slow in Sarabjit's case. "Can't say that we have been slow in reacting, we have reacted on every instance," Kaur said.

9:57 am: The Punjab government has said Sarabjit Singh will be cremated with full state honours in his village Bhikhiwind.

9:34 am: Gujarat Chief minister Narendra Modi tweeted, "Sarabjit's extra-judicial killing is yet another grim reminder that expecting Pakistan to follow due process of law in any sphere is futile."

9:28 am: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to make a statement on Sarabjit Singh in Parliament on Thursday.

9:19 am: The Ministry of External Affairs has said that the Pakistani authorities did not consult it before removing Sarabjit Singh from life support. The MEA said that the High Commission only heard about Sarabjit's death from TV.

9:10 am: The Pakistani Foreign Secretary has said Sarabjit's death was not a conspiracy. He said there were lapses in the Lahore Jail where Sarabjit was lodged and that the staff should have been vigilant.

8:57 am: Sources in the Pakistani government have said that they do intend to return Sarabjit Singh's body to India after hospital procedures are completed. Sarabjit's post-mortem is yet to conducted in Pakistan.

8:21 am: Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde visited Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh's family and condoled his death. He demanded that Sarabjit's body be brought back to Indian from Pakistan at the earliest. "The Ministry of External Affairs is in touch with the Pakistani authorities to get the body back. We are waiting for the Pakistan government to hand over the body," Shinde said.

"We had conveyed to the Pakistani government that Sarabjit had no role in incidents in Pakistan, it was a case of mistaken identity," Shinde added.

8:15 am: Security has been beefed up for Pakistani prisoners in Tihar Jail. 45 Pakistani prisoners are lodged in Tihar Jail. The Ministry of Home Affairs had last week also sent an advisory to all prisons across India to beef up security to Pakistani prisoners.

8:05 am: The Ministry of External Affairs has condoled Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh's death demanding a thorough probe into his death in Pakistan.

"We demand that the Pakistan government conducts thorough inquiry into the attack on Sarabjit and punish the culprits. We ask the Pakistani government to hand over the body of Sarabjit so that he can be cremated in his homeland," MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.

Indian prisoner in Pakistan Sarabjit Singh died of a cardiac arrest at Lahore's Jinnah hospital on Thursday after batting for life for nearly a week. The announcement from Pakistan came late in the night. Demands are now growing for his body to be brought back to India. Sources say that the body may be brought back by Thursday afternoon. While his body has been shifted to a mortuary, Pakistan has formed a medical team to conduct the autopsy.

"I received a call from the doctor on duty (at Jinnah Hospital) at 1 am (1:30 IST) informing me that Sarabjit is no more," Mahmood Shaukat, the head of a medical board that was supervising Sarabjit's treatment, said. Another doctor, who was part of the team treating Sarabjit said he died of cardiac arrest, adding that doctors made several unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.

His family has demanded that his body be brought back to India and he be declared a martyr. Pakistan media reports say a decision was taken to take him off ventilator support as he was clinically dead. However, the family claims it was only informed later by the Pakistan authorities and they allege this was tantamount to murder.

National SC/ST Commission Vice President Raj Kumar Verma said, "The family got official communication from the High Commissioner. Sarabjit was murdered. Pakistan is a murderer. His family wants Sarabjit to be declared a martyr and the body to be cremated with full state honours."

"I am sad about his death. It will affect the ties between the two countries. He will remain fighting for justice against the brutal attack on Sarabjit by jail inmates," Sarabjit's lawyer Awais Sheikh said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condoled Sarabjit's death saying, "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 criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on him must be brought to justice. 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. 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."

There is anger amongst the political class of India over Sarabjit's death in Pakistan. "Today the nation is angry and sad. The Indian government did not take any constructive step despite having all the information. This is a fit case to take up case against Pakistan at the international level," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

Sarabjit was attacked by fellow prison inmates at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. He sustained severe injuries, including a fractured skull, when at least six prisoners attacked him in a barrack at the jail. Sarabjit had slipped in an irreversible coma on Wednesday.

The police had booked two death row prisoners Amer Aftab and Mudassar for the attack on Sarabjit. They reportedly told investigators that they had attacked Sarabjit because he had allegedly carried out bomb attacks in Lahore. No action has been taken so far against officials of the jail for failing to provide adequate security to Sarabjit.

Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam and Swapandeep Kaur and sister Dalbir Kaur, who went to Lahore on Tuesday to see him, returned to India on Wednesday.

Sarabjit was convicted of alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990 and spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf. The previous Pakistan People's Party-led government put off Sarabjit's execution for an indefinite period in 2008. Sarabjit's family says he was the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.

Following the rapid deterioration in Sarabjit's condition, New Delhi had requested that he be immediately released so that he could be treated in India or a third country. Pakistan had said it was "positively considering" the request to repatriate Sarabjit.

(With additional information from PTI)

First Published: May 2, 2013, 4:06 PM IST
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