LAHORE: A 50-year-old Indian prisoner, convicted of death sentence and imprisoned for the last 24 years in Kot Lakhpat jail, died under mysterious circumstances at Jinnah hospital on Monday.
Kot Lakhpat jail sub-inspector Nafees said that the victim’s condition deteriorated on Monday morning and he was shifted to Jinnah hospital for treatment. However, he could not survive and died despite remaining in the intensive care unit for three hours. Police shifted the body to the morgue for autopsy.
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Kirpal Singh was arrested by Pakistani law enforcement agencies on February 29, 1992 when he illegally crossed the border. He was charged with bomb explosions and spying and was awarded death sentence by the court.
In March 2013, another convicted Indian spy Sarabjit Singh, who was also imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat jail on charges of bomb explosions in different districts of Punjab, had died. He was murdered by his two fellow suspected prisoners, Muhammad Mudassir and Amir.
According to Ansar Burney Trust, Kirpal Singh had been missing since 1991 from Mustakhbad Saydan village in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district. His sister-in-law Jagir Kaur says Kirpal, an ex-serviceman, inadvertently crossed over when drunk. With no resources, the family bore the trauma in silence. In March this year, the release of former Indian spy Kashmir Singh revived their hope. Kirpal’s nephew Ashwini, 28, met Pakistan’s former human rights minister Ansar Burney at the Wagah Border on April 2 to urge him to get Kirpal released.
However, Kirpal died under mysterious circumstances on April 11.
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Ansar Burney Trust further states that as many as 490 Indian and 210 Pakistani prisoners are rotting in jails on either side of the border. Some have been behind bars much beyond their term. Most are either under trials or are yet to be tried. The charges against them vary from straying across the border, jumping a city-specific visa or spying.
Sub-inspector Nafees said that the autopsy of the victim had yet to be performed.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2016.