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'It's a cold blooded murder; truth must come out'

Last updated on: May 2, 2013 12:44 IST

Image: Sarabji Singh's wife carrying a placard with her husband's picture during a demonstration in New Delhi

India on Thursday demanded justice from Pakistan after the death of Sarabjit Singh in a 'barbaric' attack in a Lahore jail with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh saying it was "'particularly regrettable" it did not heed pleas to take a humanitarian view of the prisoner's case.

As an outraged government and political parties across the spectrum showed solidarity with 49-year-old Sarabjit's family, his sister Dalbir Kaur said he should be declared a martyr.

Prime Minister Singh said Pakistan should ensure that those who are responsible were punished.

Hailing Sarabjit as a "brave son of India", he attacked Pakistan for not heeding to pleas for taking a humanitarian view on this issue after the attack by the jail inmates.

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'Barbaric criminals must be brought to justice'

Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

In a statement in New Delhi hours after Sarabjit succumbed to injuries suffered in last week's assault, Singh underlined that the criminals responsible for "the barbaric and murderous attack must be brought to justice".

"I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Sarabjit Singh. He was a brave son of India who bore his tribulations with valiant fortitude," the prime minister said in his condolence message.

"It is particularly regrettable that the government of Pakistan did not heed the pleas of the government of India, Sarabjit's family and of the civil society in India and Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of this case," he said.

Asserting that Sarabjit's death was a killing of an Indian citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities, the Union external affairs ministry demanded that Pakistan conduct a through probe into the incident to ensure that those who are responsible were punished.

Pointing out that the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh has "hurt" people-to-people ties between India and Pakistan, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid today hoped that the tragedy will help understand the the cost of "hostility" between the two countries.

"For the present, I can only say that it is a terrible psychological and emotional setback to all of us and I believe to what we have been trying to do in terms of creating greater cohesion between people of India and people of Pakistan," he told reporters in New Delhi.

Khurshid said, "Governments can sometimes disagree, governments can sometimes sit together and talk but a sustainable and long-lasting relationship has to be between people and I think that today has been very, very sadly, in a very distressing manner, that is a relationship that has been hurt by this terrible tragedy."

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'This is not the way civilised nations behave'

Image: Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj

Main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party termed as a "cold blooded murder" the death of Sarabjit.

"It is a cold blooded murder. This is not the way civilised nations behave," BJP leader Sushma Swaraj wrote on microblogging site Twitter.

Union Minister Manish Tewary said that what happened to Sarabjit was "extremely inhuman and barbaric" since India has been pressing with Pakistan to take a humanitarian view in his case.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal demanded an independent probe by an international agency into the circumstances leading to death of Sarabjit.

Badal also criticised the Centre's approach in handling the matter.

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'Centre is unable to give a strong answer to Pakistan's inhuman acts'

Image: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi accused governments of India and Pakistan of "misleading" people on the Sarabjit case. "Truth on this issue must come out," he tweeted.

"Centre is unable to give a strong answer to Pakistan's inhuman acts. Beheading of our soldiers & now Sarabjit's death are 2 recent examples," he said on Twitter.

BJP leader Ravi Shankar Prasad described Sarabjit's death as a "cruel murder" and accused the government of being indifferent to his condition in a Pakistani jail.

"He was in Pakistani jail and the responsibility was of the Pakistan government to ensure his safety and security. But, I am pained at the indifference of the government of India," Prasad, BJP's deputy leader in the Rajya Sabha, said.

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'It is a case of serious human rights violation'

Image: Kiran Bedi

Akali Dal leader Naresh Gujral said Pakistani authorities should be held directly responsible for the violation of human rights of a person.

"It is a contravention of international treaties and the government of India should have put more pressure on international human rights organisations," he said.

Gujral hoped that a credible investigation into the assault on Sarabjit in Kot Lakhpat jail of Pakistan would be carried out by people who enjoy international credibility.

"There are human rights activists like Asma Jehangir who enjoy that kind of credibility, and I do hope in the interest of Indo-Pak relations the Pakistan authorities would involve such people so that the truth comes out," Gujral said.

Kiran Bedi, country's first woman IPS officer and former director general of Tihar Prisons, said India should approach Human Rights Council to investigate the assault on Sarabjit.

"It is a case of serious human rights violation. Sarabjit's death inside Pakistan prison was preventable. We need to find out if our consulate in Lahore was regularly visiting him?" Bedi said.

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'Sarabjit's death leaves behind many questions'

Image: AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal

Activist and CPI-ML leader Kavita Krishnan said Sarabjit was a "victim of lethal mix of communalism and jingoism" that drives state policy in the subcontinent.

"I condemn Sarabjit's murder. It is heinous violation of human rights by Pak state. An international probe is a must. Protect Indians in Pakistan jails. Culture of extra judicial killings of prisoners anywhere must stops," she said.

Aam Admi Party National Convenor Arvind Kejriwal also condemned the incident. "Sarabjit's death leaves behind many questions," he said, adding this has shown that the government's priority was not the prisoner but to save corrupt people.


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