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Sarabjit's family gets visa, India asks Pak to explain attack on him

Apr 27, 2013 03:13 PM IST India India

Lahore: A day after Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh was brutally assaulted inside Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail, his family has been been granted visa to visit him in hospital. Four members of Sarabjit Singh's family have been granted visa by the Pakistan High Commission to meet the Indian prisoner. The Pakistani High Commission in Delhi also said that it will extend all possible help to facilitate their travel to Pakistan.

Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur on Saturday said that the High Commission in Delhi has issued visa to the family and she along with his daughters Poonam, Swapandeep Kaur and the prisoner's wife Sukhpreet Kaur would be travelling to Lahore. However, she did not say when they will leave for Pakistan. Besides visa to four family members, she said government officials have informed her that Pakistan government has allowed one family member to stay in the Lahore hospital where Sarabjit, whose condition continues to be critical, is under treatment.

Meanwhile, Sarabjit continues to be critical and in ICU. Two prisoners have been charged and two officials suspended. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has condemned the attack and called it a 'very sad incident'.

Condemning the attack, Minister of State for Home Affairs RPN Singh said, "Our deputy high commissioner has lodged a protest with the Pakistan Foreign Office. We want an explanation as to how it happened. Our government tried its best to get him freed. We condemn the incident. It is Pakistan's responsibility to ensure Indians in their jails are safe."

The police on Saturday registered a case of attempted murder against two prisoners for brutally assaulting Indian national Sarabjit Singh, who was in a "deep coma" in a hospital in Lahore. Official sources said the FIR against prisoners Amer Aftab and Mudassar was registered following a complaint from Assistant Superintendent Ishtiaq Ahmed Gill of Kot Lakhpath Jail. The two men were booked under sections 324 (attempted murder) and 334 (causing severe injuries) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

CNN-IBN has learned that doctors are waiting for Sarabjit to stabilise before conducting further tests. Sarabjit has suffered injuries on his head and swelling on his face. Doctors suspect there may be other injuries as well.

Doctors were unable to perform surgery on him on Friday because of extensive internal bleeding caused by a severe head injury. "No surgery can be performed till his condition stabilises," a source said. Sarabjit was in an Intensive Care Unit of the Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, where he was admitted on Friday after being brutally beaten up at the Kot Lakhpat Jail.

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 prisoners allegedly assaulted Sarabjit with blunt objects.

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. In 2012, 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," 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.

With additional information from PTI