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'It was a planned murder; we must push Pak for credible inquiry'

By Shubha Singh
May 02, 2013 09:47 IST
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The death of Sarabjit Singh in Lahore's Jinnah hospital after a brutal attack in Kot Lakhpat Jail was received with grief and sorrow in India.

Sarabjit Singh's family -- his sister, wife and daughters -- had just returned from Lahore two days ago when they received the news of his death.

Former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, G Parathasarathy expressed deep regret on Sarabjit’s death.

"I am deeply sorry for the family, my heart goes out to them. I sincerely hope that the government of Pakistan carries out a serious investigation and the authorities who were responsible for allowing the attack on him in prison receive exemplary punishment."

The former diplomat, however, felt that the tragic incident would not have an impact on bilateral relations.

"If the Mumbai attack did not have an impact on bilateral relations, how can you expect anything to happen now? I cannot expect this government to do anything."

Retired diplomat and former secretary in ministry of external affairs, J C Sharma called it a "planned murder".

"An Indian death row prisoner about whom there has been so much publicity in both countries, such a person could be assaulted in a high security prison without immediate intervention by authorities is not credible." 

"There is a lot of weight in the allegation that the murderous assault was in revenge for Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. It would have taken over five minutes for the assault to take place and that no preventive action was taken during those five minutes makes it suspicious," he explained.

The former diplomat said that the Indian government must put diplomatic pressure on Pakistan to "institute a credible inquiry into the assault." 

Expressing deep anguish at Sarabjit’s death, the ministry of external affairs also called for a thorough investigation.

It said: "This was, simply put, the killing of our citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities. We demand that the government of Pakistan conducts a thorough investigation to identify those who were responsible, and ensure that they are punished.

We have asked the Pakistani authorities to release the body of Sarabjit Singh so that he can be given a funeral in India and among his own people. The shocking attack highlights the need for concerted action by Pakistan to safeguard Indians in Pakistani jails."

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Shubha Singh in New Delhi