The family of Sarabjit Singh is expected to arrive in Pakistan on Sunday to meet the convicted Indian spy who is battling for his life after being assaulted allegedly by fellow inmates in the Kot Lakhpat prison.
The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi has issued 15-day gratis visas to four members of Sarabjit’s family – his wife Sukhpreet Kaur, sister Dalbir Kaur, and daughters Poonam and Swapandeep Kaur – to meet the Indian prisoner who is in a deep coma and on ventilator at the Jinnah Hospital.
A senior official of an intelligence agency confirmed to The Express Tribune that the visas have been issued to four members of Sarabjit’s family. They are scheduled to arrive at Wagah border at 10:00 am today (Sunday).
Sarabjit Singh, who was sentenced to death 16 years ago on espionage charges, was rushed to the Jinnah Hospital on Friday with multiple wounds, including a severe head injury, after his fellow inmates hit him with bricks, following an altercation.
“Sarabjit’s condition is critical with multiple wounds to his head, abdomen, jaws and other body parts, and he has been put on ventilator,” a doctor in Jinnah Hospital told AFP. “He is fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), and the next 24 hours are critical,” the doctor said, adding that the head injury was ‘quite severe’.
“He needs surgery but the doctors are not performing it because they don’t want to take any chances and want him to stabilise,” he said.
Sarabjit’s lawyer Owais Sheikh told The Express Tribune on Saturday that the hospital management had barred him from seeing his client. According to the doctors, Sarabjit is still in coma, he added.
Sarabjit was arrested following a bomb blast in Lahore in 1990 that had killed 14 people. Subsequently, he was convicted of espionage and sentenced to death by a court. Previously, his family had filed mercy petitions seeking Sarabjit’s release. The Pakistani government maintains that Sarabjit was an Indian spy, but family says he is a farmer who accidentally crossed the border into Pakistan while drunk.
The attack on Sarabjit was front-page news in Indian newspapers on Saturday, with Indian television stations running frequent updates on his condition and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh describing it as a ‘very sad incident’, according to the Press Trust of India.
The Indian news agency reported that two retired Indian judges, part of a joint India-Pakistan panel, are set to visit the Kot Lakhpat prison.
A senior home ministry official told PTI that Justices KS Gill and MA Khan and their Pakistani counterparts, all members of the India-Pakistan Joint Judicial Committee of Prisoners, are scheduled to visit Kot Lakhpat jail within a day or two to see the conditions of Indian inmates.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 28th, 2013.