Amritsar/Lahore: As the family of Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh, who is battling for life in a Lahore hospital after being attacked in a prison by his fellow inmates, prepares to leave for Pakistan to visit him, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lashed out at the government over the issue on Sunday.
"If a government is not capable of protecting its citizens and ensuring their safety then that government should not be in power. Pakistan is brazen because it is not afraid of consequences," said Punjab BJP MLA Navjyot Kaur.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari, however, claimed that the MEA was in regular touch with Pakistan over the issue. "We are extremely worried about the condition of Sarabjit, we have been trying for his release. We are in touch with Pakistan to provide better treatment to him," he said.
Meanwhile, Sarabjit's family has alleged that the Lahore jail authorities might also be involved in the attack. "This (attack on Sarabjit) is not possible without the involvement of the jail authorities," said the Indian prisoner's sister Dalbir Kaur. "Pakistan should take immediate action against the perpetrators of the attack on Sarabjit," she added.
The Pakistan High Commission in Delhi has issued 15 days 'gratis visa' to Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam, Swapandeep Kaur and Dalbir Kaur to meet him. The 49-year-old Indian death row convict is in a "deep coma" and has been put on ventilator support in state-run Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, where he was admitted on Saturday after being brutally beaten with blades and pieces of a ghee tin by at least six other prisoners within his barrack at the Kot Lakhpat Jail.
Dalbir Kaur said, "Sarabjit had been stabbed with knives and someone must have told the jail inmates that all these were available in the prison. This had been intentionally done to Sarabjit."
"I am not ready to believe that they grabbed the keys from the jail warden. I think the warden himself gave the keys and they made most of that opportunity. Why his barrack was changed at the time when other Pakistani prisoners were having food," she asked.
Dalbir recalled that when she had gone to meet Sarabjit in the jail, the prison authorities had not even allowed to carry her handkerchief. The food items she was carrying for her brother were checked after tearing the packets, she said.
Sarabjit was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province in Pakistan, that killed 14 people in 1990. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf. His family says he is a victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh termed the assault on Sarabjit inside jail as a "very sad" incident. "It is very sad. I think in the jail, I think some inmates attacked him. I think that is very sad," he said.
(With additional information from PTI)