Indian Prisoner’s Death in Pakistani Jail Stirs Nationalist Furies

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RAMINDER PAL SINGH / EPA

Indian schoolchildren hold portraits of Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Pakistani prison, in Amritsar, India, on May 2, 2013

Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner on death row in a Pakistani jail since 1991, died on Thursday morning following severe head injuries inflicted by six fellow inmates at Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail. Singh, 49, convicted for spying and being involved in a series of bombings in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people, had been in a coma since hospitalization on Friday. He died of a cardiac arrest.

The death has shocked India, where family members and human-rights activists have campaigned for his release for years. The family has always claimed that Singh was a victim of mistaken identity.

The Indian authorities have demanded that Singh’s attackers be identified and punished. The Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that the attack on Singh “highlights the need for concerted action by Pakistan to safeguard Indians in Pakistani jails.” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh strongly criticized Pakistan for having failed to “heed the pleas of the government of India, Sarabjit’s family and of civil society in India and Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of this case.”

(MORE: Trade Could Be Key to Easing India-Pakistan Relations)

Singh’s case — in and out of the news since Pakistan’s former military ruler Pervez Musharraf rejected a petition for clemency in 2008 — took on renewed significance after India in recent months hanged Ajmal Kasab, the Pakistani militant who carried out the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, and Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri convicted of the December 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament. Many feared that Pakistan might hang Singh in retaliation. Singh’s sister Dalbir Kaur told Indian media that Singh’s fellow inmates “were threatening him with dire consequences and [had been] aggressive since the hanging of Afzal Guru.”

For the Indian government preparing to go to the polls next year and already beset with corruption scandals, Singh’s death comes as an added headache. The opposition has accused the government of being unable to “give a strong answer to Pakistan’s inhuman acts.” The Pakistani government has arrested two death-row inmates in connection with the attack, but it too will need to avoid inflaming public sentiment ahead of polls on May 11.

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Analysts feel that a diplomatic impasse between the nuclear-armed neighbors — which have fought three major wars since independence from Britain in 1947 — is not likely. “Sarabjit Singh’s death exposes the larger mind-set in Pakistan, which is essentially anti-India,” says Ashok Behuria, an India-Pakistan-relations expert at the New Delhi–based think tank Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses. “However, on a diplomatic level, it is temporary setback and is unlikely to destabilize the bilateral dialogue process between the countries.”

As a conciliatory gesture, Pakistan is to hand over Singh’s body to the Indian authorities as soon as formalities are completed. However, the spotlight on the contentious issue of the treatment of Indian and Pakistani prisoners in each other’s jails will not fade. “We hope that the fatal attack on Sarabjit will lead to reform,” says Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, adding that reciprocal protection is needed “before, during and after trial.”

MORE: Pakistan’s Newest Martyrs: Why Anti-Shi‘ite Violence May Be the Country’s Biggest Problem

16 comments
waqbi
waqbi like.author.displayName 1 Like

You do know that he was an admitted terriorist who according to his own admission was responsible for a bomb blast in pakistan which killed several civilians. Even indian RAW admitted that he was their agent. To call him only prisoner not a terriorist is like to call Anders Brevik (mass murderer= killed 100+ children) a felon.

He was also on a death row in pakistan for his crimes aganist humanity.

That being said i must say that killing someone in prison like that is inhumane and senseless. either he/she is an indian prisoner in pakistani jail or thousands of innocents kashmiri freedom fighters martyred by indian army in kashmir region.

I am for truth no matter who says it. 

jvaishnav47
jvaishnav47

What is most disheartening that Indian govt ignored request of Late Sarabjit family /mr Sarbit's request too informing that the fears of his life

however govt did not pay attention.Even did not appropriately handled the case with Pakistan Govt, not approached international court /international human rights commission.

One soldier was beheaded, another brutally killed, Indian are inhumanly treated in Pakistan, Over 7 above terror attacks, fake currency /drug trafficking ,India is being troubles , however govt is silent

hillblooms
hillblooms

It is about time, sensible, educated majority in India and Pakistan took over this conversation.

Maaq.
Maaq. like.author.displayName 1 Like

Full state honors and draping with Tri-color? He was indeed working for the Indian govt; sacrificed his life for bombing mission.

HappySingh
HappySingh like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 2 Like

Sarabjit’s coffin, draped with Tricolour cremated with full state honours, contingent of the Punjab police constabulary reversed its arms and provided a gun salute by firing a volley in the air.

Sarabjit declared “National Martyr.” 

The kind of treatment that India has accorded to Sarabjit is akin to legitimizing terrorist attacks on Pakistan by Indians



Nimraa
Nimraa like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Indian Prime Minister’s intention in calling Sarabjith (convicted terrorist) as " Brave son of India”, clearly proves the Indian intentions for its neighbours.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@Nimraa On one side U have Pakistan, where innocent Indians are captured and put in jail.  False cases are made on them.  And since nothing can be proved they'll be beaten to death by Terrorist Groups hovering around happily in those jails.

On the other side U have India, where a captured Terrorist like Ajmal Kasab who was spotted on camera with weapons is kept in prison for years together with VIP treatment.

sardar5
sardar5

Nanda Kishore,

What you call killing of Pakistani prisoner by an indian soldier in jail?I think  you will also call it an act of  heroism like a self confessed and convicted terrorist Sarbijit a hero.

Why don't you bunderstani(indians)stop liaing and misleading the world by calling yourself  a victom of terrorism and when your own citizen is caught in an act of terrorism and killing 14 Pakistanis and convicted by a court of law is still an innocent.HA,HA,all bunderstanis should die with shame.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@sardar5 ... And what court, what law, what conviction?  When did U get all these things.  These are the terms used by Civil Societies not Pakistan.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@sardar5 Politicians back home might have made Sarabjit a hero.  But the fact remains that he was a) innocent and b) he was brutally murdered in that Pakistani Jail.

a)  He as on his own accord and not working for India (unlike Ajmal Kasab)

b)  World might turn a blind eye but everybody knows that India is NOT involved in any Cross-Border Terrorism.  It's Pakistan which is the HUB of Terrorist Activities. 

So stop lying to yourself and recognize Ur true faces.  Rather the true face of Ur Military and Govt.

And there are so many such helpless victims in Pakistani Jails.

HollyKick
HollyKick like.author.displayName 1 Like

@Nimraa shut up, we clearly know that a country full of terrorists cannot call others terrorists. Go back to you training camp, they need a human bomb. 

sardar5
sardar5

You bunderstanis(indian)are such a big liars and strat accussing Pakistan all the time.You don't show your ugly face to the world.You are full of mischeif.What about your milatary man has attacked a Pakistani prisoner in jail and have put him on the brink of death?What you call this,a stupid act or a heroic act?As your nation is calling a hero,a self confessed terrorist,who killed 14 Pakistanis in planting bombs in Pakistan.It is time you SHUT UP FOREVER.You bunder.

HollyKick
HollyKick

@sardar5 @AzharNawaz  i can understand your frustration were you denied entry into India ? The way you are talking is more like a terrorist.. i promote peace .. anyone can compare what i wrote vs what you wrote .. you are now showing signs of internet terrorism .. I wish you guys get help out there in Pakistan. Wish you guys a peaceful and happy life .. wish best wishes from India. 

AzharNawaz
AzharNawaz like.author.displayName 1 Like

@HollyKick@NimraaOh you shutup ......the nation of rapists in the world.....you are the people who are involved in destabilising our country.....you people have hidden your faces behind these terrorists......sarbajeet singh is the greatest prove of this thing.......killing innocent muslims is your passion......you people are prejudiced against muslims......you have killed thousands of muslims in kashmir as well as in India......you are the real terrorists....


Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/05/02/indian-prisoners-death-in-pakistani-jail-prompts-protection-calls/#ixzz2SD5TvaXp