Delhi: Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh
continued to be critical in a hospital in Pakistan's Lahore city
even as his family members said that they would go there Sunday to
look after him.
Four of Sarabjit's family will cross over to Pakistan Sunday to
visit him in Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, where he has been admitted
after a brutal assault. Doctors, according to reports, said that
Sarabjit was in "deep coma".
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi issued the visas to the
family Saturday evening as a special case.
"We have got the visas and we will be crossing over to Pakistan
tomorrow (Sunday) morning. Our (visa) papers will reach here (Amritsar)
by the evening," Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur told IANS in
She said that they will cross over to Pakistan on foot from the
Attari-Wagah joint check-post, 30 km from here, Sunday. Dalbir
will be accompanied by Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur and
daughters Swapandeep and Poonam.
"We want to be with Sarabjit in this difficult time. He is all
alone. We don't even know what his condition is. We are getting
reports only through news channels and his lawyer," said Dalbir.
Dalbir Kaur herself had taken ill Saturday morning, and had to be
examined by a doctor after she complained of uneasiness and chest
pain. She was stable later in the day.
India's external affairs ministry facilitated the visas for the
family members. Raj Kumar Verka, vice chairman of the National
Commission for Scheduled Castes, whom Sarabjit's family met
Saturday in Amritsar, flew to New Delhi later with the documents
to facilitate their visas.
In Lahore, authorities set up a medical board to treat Sarabjit,
media reports said.
"A high-powered medical board has been constituted to treat the
patient," Mahmood Shaukat, the principal of Allama Iqbal Medical
College, told Dawn.
Shaukat said Sarabjit's condition was "critical". A separate room
has been temporarily converted into an ICU for his treatment.
Sarabjit was admitted to the hospital after being assaulted by
fellow prisoners in Lahore's Kot Lakhpat prison Friday. He
suffered critical head injuries in the unprovoked and sudden
assault by four to five prisoners with bricks and plates.
Police in Lahore have registered a case of attempt to murder
against two prisoners, Aamir and Mudassar, who viciously attacked
Sarabjit, a media report said.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said the murderous attack
on Sarabjit was "very sad".
"Yes, it is very sad, some inmates attacked him in jail. I think
that is a very sad development," he told reporters on the
sidelines of a function at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi.
In Sarabjit's hometown Bhikiwind, and in Amritsar and Patiala,
people have been gathering to protest the vicious attack.
Shocked by the murderous assault on Sarabjit, a sobbing Dalbir
Kaur Friday claimed that her brother had apprehended such an
attack as he had earlier received threats from fellow prisoners.
"Some prisoners had been threatening him. It was a conspiracy, he
was deliberately attacked. Why was he not protected... I want to
go to Pakistan immediately," she had said.
Meanwhile, officials of the Indian High Commission arrived in
Lahore, 50 km from Amritsar, to eenquire about Sarabjit's
Sarabjit has been on death row in Pakistan since 1990 after being
convicted for bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that left 14 people
His family claims he is innocent, having inadvertently crossed
into Pakistan in August 1990 in an inebriated state, only to be
Police in Pakistan however claim that Sarabjit Singh, known as
Manjit Singh, was involved in terrorist strikes.
The assault on Sarabjit comes a few months after the death of
Indian prisoner Chamel Singh in the same Kot Lakhpat jail, after
he was allegedly assaulted by jail staff.
Chamel Singh, in his 60s, was serving a five-year term for
espionage and died at the Jinnah Hospital Jan 15. During an
autopsy done on March 13 - nearly two months after his death -
injury marks had reportedly been found on the body.
His body was returned last month.
His family alleged he was killed in the prison, but no probe was
carried out by the Pakistani authorities.