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Indian beaten to death in Pak jail: Lawyer seeks probe

January 30, 2013 16:26 IST

A Pakistani lawyer has filed a petition in the Lahore high court seeking a thorough investigation into the death of an Indian prisoner who was allegedly assaulted by prison staffers at Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Awais Sheikh, the counsel for several Indian prisoners in Pakistan, filed the petition on Tuesday.

He asked the court to direct authorities to ascertain the cause of death of Chambail Singh, who was serving a five-year sentence for espionage.

Sheikh pointed out that Singh's body had been lying in the mortuary of the state-run Jinnah Hospital for the past two weeks.

He said he had received information about Singh’s death from a lawyer named Tehseen Khan, who was freed from Kot Lakhpat Jail three days after Singh’s death on January 15.

"Khan is the eye witness to the matter and claims Singh was mercilessly beaten by jail staff. Singh was then taken to Jinnah Hospital, where he died on January 15," Sheikh said.

Shiekh said he had approached officials in the jail to ascertain the cause of death.

The deputy superintendent of Kot Lakhpat Jail denied that Singh had died of torture and said a cardiac arrest was the cause of death.

The lawyer said he had also approached the medical superintendent of Jinnah Hospital, who confirmed that Singh’s body had been in their mortuary for the past two weeks and that an autopsy was yet to be done.

Sheikh asked the high court to direct the federal interior secretary and the home secretary of Punjab province to investigate the matter expeditiously and submit a report in court so that if torture was proved to be the cause of death, those responsible could be punished.

He also asked the court to direct the superintendent of Kot Lakhpat Jail to appear in person in court and submit a report on the cause of Singh’s death.

The medical superintendent of Jinnah Hospital should be directed to produce the findings of an autopsy, he said.

Singh, believed to be in his 60s, was received dead at Jinnah Hospital on January 15.

Kot Lakhpat Jail’s Additional Superintendent Ishtiaq Ahmed told PTI that Singh had felt a pain in his chest while having breakfast and was taken to the hospital, where doctors pronounced him dead.

"The apparent cause of death is cardiac arrest, according to the doctors," he said.

Tehseen Khan, a Christian lawyer who recently completed a 42-month sentence in a fraud case, claimed Singh was beaten to death by jail staff.

A total of 33 Indian prisoners are currently being held in Kot Lakhpat Jail. Authorities have launched a judicial inquiry into the death of Singh.

Judicial magistrate Afzal Abbas has recorded the statements of 14 Indian prisoners who were in the same barrack as Singh. 

M Zulqernain
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