New Delhi/Lahore: With Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh continuing to be in a coma and battling for life in state-run Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, India has offered medical assistance to Pakistan in treating him and has said Delhi will use the incident as an additional ground to push hard to get him back to his homeland.
"The best we can, we will. Right now there is very little we can do in terms of medical intervention, unless Pakistan seeks any assistance in medical diagnosis," External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said. He added that the decision to get Sarabjit back to India should not be an emotional or political one but a "medical decision". "We would be willing to cooperate in any way should Pakistan government need any assistance," said the minister.
Meanwhile, Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur has demanded that Pakistan should return her husband. The Indian prisoner's family will leave for Lahore on Sunday. Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur on Saturday confirmed that the High Commission in Delhi has issued visa to the family and she along with the death row convict's wife Sukhpreet Kaur and daughters Poonam, Swapandeep Kaur would be travelling to Lahore. She also said that government officials have informed her that the Pakistan government has allowed one family member to stay in the Lahore hospital, where Sarabjit is under treatment.
Sarabjit's case should be pursued forcefully with Pak: Punjab
Describing the attack on Sarabjit as most unfortunate, Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal has asked the Centre to pursue the case forcefully with the Pakistan government and send a high-level team to probe the case. He alleged the UPA government at the Centre was "indecisive" over sensitive issues.
Badal, who is also president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, said, "Congress-led UPA government is indecisive even on sensitive issues like Chinese intrusion and beating up of Indian national Sarabjit in Lahore Jail."
He added that he could not understand the "lethargy" of Centre on such critical issues, when the whole country and all the state governments are supporting.
Pakistan human rights body condemns assault on Sarabjit
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has strongly condemned the attack on Sarabjit and urged the federal government to conduct an inquiry into the matter and punish those responsible for the incident.
"The HRCP condemns the murderous attack on Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner, at the Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore. A prisoner is wholly dependent for his safety on the keepers of the prison and, regardless of his offence, he is entitled to due protection against violence by wardens or fellow detainees," the rights watchdog said in a statement.
It criticised jail authorities for failing to provide adequate security to 49-year-old Sarabjit. "The authorities should have taken special care of Sarabjit Singh since his case is well-known and the fellow prisoners' hostility towards him could have been anticipated," the statement said.
Concerned about the fallout of the incident on ties with India, the HRCP said Pakistani authorities should have "realised the adverse effects on relations with India if an Indian prisoner fell victim to any foul play, to say nothing of murderous attacks on him".
The organisation pointed out that India had recently complained about the "death by torture of an Indian who was detained at Kot Lakhpat and the matter is pending clearance". These cases revealed the "dangerous consequences of the growth of intolerance in Pakistani society, which will cause the people of this land more harm than anyone else", the HRCP said.
Sarabjit in deep coma, on ventilator support
Sarabjit is in a "deep coma" and has been put on ventilator support with doctors saying on Saturday that they won't be able to perform surgery on him till his condition stabilises. The 49-year-old Indian prisoner is in the Intensive Care Unit of the 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.
"His condition is critical as he has sustained severe injuries on his head, jaws, abdomen and other parts. He has been put on ventilator support," a senior doctor at the hospital said.
Sarabjit's family would be travelling to Lahore on Sunday after the Pakistan High Commission granted them 15 days gratis visa.
Sarabjit was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and by former President Pervez Musharraf. The outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party-led government put off Sarabjit's execution for an indefinite period in 2008.
(With additional information from PTI)