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Pak: Sarabjit Singh put on ventilator, Indian officials meet him

Apr 27, 2013 08:15 AM IST India India

Lahore: The death row convict, Sarabjit Singh, who was attacked in a Lahore jail in Pakistan, is in "deep coma" and no surgery can be performed till his condition stabilises, said official sources. He has been put on ventilator. The doctors are carrying out trauma control and are awaiting stabilisation in his condition before conducting further tests.

"Doctors attending to Sarabjit Singh informed the Indian officials that he is in coma on ventilator and receiving IV drip," External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin tweeted. X-rays, MRIs and CT scans have been conducted on Sarabjit, who has suffered injuries on his head and also has swelling on his face.

Meanwhile, Indian officials have met Sarabjit Singh in Lahore. India got consular access to the death row convict Sarabjit Singh in the ICU of a hospital in Lahore, where he was admitted after being attacked by two prisoners in the jail. "Officials of India's High Commission at Jinnah Hospital in Lahore. In regular contact with Medical Board attending to Sarabjit Singh," Akbaruddin tweeted.

The attack on Sarabjit occurred when the victim and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for an hour-long break. The two prisoners assaulted Sarabjit with blunt objects and he sustained a severe head injury.

There is tight security outside Lahore's Jinnah Hospital where Sarabjit is being treated. But it comes too late to protect Sarabjit from being attacked inside the prison, despite several warnings and now Sarabjit Singh, the Indian on Pakistani death row is battling for his life.

The attack on Sarabjit, an Indian on death row for carrying out a bomb attack in Lahore in 1990, didn't come without warning. Last year, he faced threats from groups including Hafiz Saeed's JuD after the release of fellow prisoner Surjit Singh.

In the aftermath of the Afzal Guru hanging, the threat to Sarbjit's life increased. His family says Sarabjit faced direct threats from guards, which they reported. Fingers point to a possible conspiracy, given that he was attacked just as he was being sent to a more secure cell. "We told authorities, but no one listened to us," said Sarabjit's relative.

"Sarabjit sent me letters through his lawyer, saying that he was being threatened. He said that people told him that he was alive when Afzal was executed in India, so we are going to attack you. I told the Home Minister and the External Affairs Minister about the situation. I want to go to Pakistan tomorrow morning. I want a visa as soon as possible," his sister Dalbir Kaur said.

Human rights activist Ansar Burney, who plans to head to Lahore to meet Sabarjit, has raised serious concerns saying it was a suspicious attack. The Bharatiya Janata Party has sought an explanation from the government as to why no heed was paid to sarabjit's family's complaints. "Indian government has to explain why nothing was done even after the family wrote to them that Sarabjit is being threatened in the Pakistani jail," BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

In the past few years Indian leaders have pleaded with Pakistan to release Sarbjit, who claims he is innocent, on humanitarian grounds. "We have been requesting Pakistan to set Sarabjit free on humanitarian grounds. If the Pakistan government cannot keep him safe in the premises of a jail it is extremely unfortunate," Congress leader Rashid Alvi said. Given that they can't secure his safety, the big question is whether Pakistan will now reconsider India's plea and return Sarabjit home.

(With additional information from PTI)