The death of Chhamel Singh, an Indian inmate at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail, under mysterious circumstances, has been widely published in the media. The Indian prisoner allegedly succumbed after being mercilessly beaten by the jail authorities in Pakistan.
Amid uproar over the incident by human rights groups, Pakistan has also ordered for a judicial inquiry into the incident.
Refuting reports that Singh was beaten up, Ishtiaq Ahmed, the additional superintendent of Kot Lakhpat Jail, had said the Indian prisoner had developed pains in his chest while having breakfast on January 15 and was taken to a state-run hospital.
“We shifted him to JinnahHospital, where doctors pronounced him dead. The apparent cause of death was cardiac arrest, according to the doctors," Ahmed said.
Following allegations and media reports that Singh was assaulted by the prison staff, authorities launched a judicial inquiry into the incident.
Chamail Singh, 48, son of Salaar Singh, was a resident of Targwal Khalkay village, Akhnoor tehsil, in Jammu, who was imprisoned on spying charges after a military trial sentence in June 2012.
Pakistani daily Express Tribune has quoted Tehrin Khan, another inmate at the same jail, saying Singh was washing his clothes on the morning of January 15 at a tap in the jail’s courtyard when two chakar/hawaldars, Muhammad Sidique and Muhammad Nawaz, and Assistant Superintendent of Jail Nasir Nawaz stopped him for doing so.
Khan was released from jail on January 18 who later on reported the story to the newspaper.
“Does he think the jail is his home where he can wash his clothes wherever he wants?”, Khan quoted ASJ Nawaz as saying.
According to the report, as Singh responded, the chakars started beating him on the official’s orders. The ASJ himself allegedly pounded Singh with his fists.
“Kicks drew blood from Singh’s upper lip and brow. The three men continued to beat him for a minute, at the end of which he was dead”, claimed Khan, according to the report.
The jailors dispatched the body to the prison hospital before rushing to Barrack No 4 where Singh had been kept.
According to Khan, eight affidavits were then extracted from his fellow inmates, all Indian nationals, to the effect that it was a ‘natural’ death.
Aided by another inmate Zeeshan, the prisoners who signed the papers were Maqbool Ali, Mohammad Fareed, Kuldeep Kumar, Javed Singh, Lakhu Ram and Shabu Nath. This was all done in the absence of a magistrate, he said.
The affidavits stated that Singh lit a cigarette after washing his clothes and died of natural causes. He was rushed to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
According to the daily, Singh’s body has been in the JinnahHospital mortuary for 12 days.
Assistant Superintendant of Police Muhammad Sarwar confirmed that he had received the body from the jail and taken it to the hospital.