Sarabjit succumbs to injuries in Pakistan
The painful death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan’s Jinnah Hospital on May 2 is another blot on the diplomatic failure of Congress-led UPA Government. This new cruel form of hanging adopted by Pak has put a question mark over the security of over 1,000 Indian prisoners languishing in different Pakistani jails even after completion of their jail terms. It is also a lesson to India, which has been spending crores of rupees on security or offering spicy biryani to even the hardcore Pakistani terrorists in our jails. If India fails to act exemplary at this moment, we should be ready to receive more mutilated bodies of our nationals from Pakistan.
Though Pakistan tried its best to prove Sarabjit as ‘a terrorist involved in bomb blasts in Lahore’ and even sentenced him death with the help of fabricated evidences, it was a clear case of mistaken identity as Sarabjit strayed across the border in an inebriated state on August 8, 1990. He was nabbed by Pakistani rangers and later framed in several terror acts as Manjit Singh, which he was never.
The barbaric attack on Sarabjit in high security jail is not the first case. The Indian prisoners have routinely been attacked there in similar fatal and inhuman manners. The treatment meted out to Chamel Singh on January 15 this year in the same Kot Lakhpat Jail was equally brutal. Outside jail also Pakistan has been behaving equally barbaric. The beheading of Indian soldier Hemraj on January 8 was equally cruel.
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 Pakistani courts and former President Pervez Musharraf. The outgoing Pakistan People’s Party-led government put off his execution for an indefinite period in 2008. After languishing 23 years in Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat jail he was brutally assaulted by his fellow inmates in the jail itself on April 26. He succumbed to his injuries in Lahore’s Jinnah hospital on May 2.
However, after the hanging of Mumbai terror attack convict Ajmal Kasab and Parliament attack convict Afzal in India, it is not unexpected. But the prime question is that we diplomatically failed to ensure safety of our nationals in Pak jails. There are also reports that Sarabjit has been sacrificed by Pakistani politicians to please their vote-banks in the election for National Assembly. Therefore, it can be said that what happened in high security Kot Lakhpat Jail was a well-calculated pre-planned drama, scripted by top Pakistani politicians.
Sarabjit’s tragic killing received a strong fury from Indians world over. Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Smt Sushma Swaraj called it a ‘cold blooded murder’, while some termed it yet another sign of UPA’s impotence and detachment from citizens. Some demanded to declare Sarabjit a martyr. Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, termed the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh a ‘mud toy’ and demanded his resignation forthwith. BJP demanded to recall Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan and scale down diplomatic relations with Islamabad till Pakistan gives full assurance that there will be no provocation or protection to any terror activities against India and full protection will be given to Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails. The spiritual head of Ajmer Sharif shrine Sayyed Jainul Abideen urged the Muslims world over to condemn the barbaric act by Pakistan.
Sarabjit’s death has left so many questions unanswered, as to why the Government of Pakistan did not beef up security after threats issued by JuD and Hafiz Sayeed following the hanging of Afzal in India, how many jail inmates attacked Sarabjit, who provided them weapons inside the jail, etc. Not only this, why the details of his treatment in Jinnah Hospital were kept secret. Sarabjit’s medical reports were not even shown to his family members.
Presently, there are more than 1000 Indian nationals including 620 prisoners and 400 fishermen in different Pakistani jails. Whenever there is any unfriendly development in India with regard to Muslims, these Indian prisoners are attacked. In majority of the attacks the jail authorities instigate the attackers. “Whenever some incidents took place in India in which Muslims were involved, the jail officials in Pakistan allowed the Pakistani prisoners to attack us Indians. This attack on Sarabjit could not be the exception,” said Lekhuram Meghwal, who belongs to Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan and spent six years in Kot Lakhpat Jail for straying into Pakistan in 2007. He was released in March this year.
But Pakistan’s attitude is not the same with the convicts of other nations like the USA. They are treated with high respect and are provided full security. The only reason of it is the strong foreign policy of those nations. In the case of Sarabjit, Pakistan moves very calculativelyy. It first planned an attack on him in the Jail, then allowed his family members to meet him in hospital, and till the last moment tried to show that it can allow him to go outside Pakistan for better treatment. But the fact was that it wanted Sarabjit to die before the polling is held in Pakistan on May 11 so that some parties can draw political mileage.
There are over 200 Pakistani nationals in various Indian jails. Majority of them are involved in serious terrorist activities. But India never meted out to such inhuman treatment to any of them. Even the terrorists like Kasab and Afzal were given full legal support and security. India spent over Rs 16 crore on Kasab. But in return Pakistan broke all records in tormenting the Indian prisoners in their jails. In 1971, 93,000 Pakistani soldiers were captured by Indian army. The way they were treated in our jails was exemplary. In fact there is no comparison to such an excellent PoW treatment anywhere in the world. India ultimately released all these PoWs, but at the same time, did not negotiate the release of about 200-300 Indian soldiers of the same war, kept in Pakistani prisons. A number of these Indian PoWs died in Pakistani prisons; many of them lost their sanity, and many others were forced to convert. In subsequent times, if any Indian get close to the India-Pakistan border by mistake, they are captured, labelled as Indian spies and tortured for years in Pakistani jails.
The attack on Sarabjit is also clear violation of Geneva Convention which extensively defined the basic, wartime rights of prisoners (civil and military); established protections for the wounded; and established protections for the civilians in and around a war zone. The treaties were ratified by 194 countries including India and Pakistan.
Open assault on India’s Constitution and judicial set-up: RSS
Condemning the barbarian killing of Sarabjit in strongest words, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Akhil Bharatiya Prachar Pramukh Dr Manmohan Vaidya said: “The attacks on Sarabjit by Pakistani hooligans was to avenge the hanging of Afzal, who was hanged only when India’s Supreme Court awarded him with death sentence after finding him guilty. On the contrary, there was no unanimity in Pakistan over either on the nature of offence or on the quantum of sentence awarded to Sarabjit by the Pakistani courts. In this context brutal attacks on an individual lodged in Pakistani jail raises a big question mark on political and judicial set up of Pakistan. In fact, the attacks have not happened on an individual named Sarabjit Singh, rather it is an open assault on India’s Constitution and its judicial set up,” the statement said.
Fight for other Sarabjits’ will continue : Dalbir Kaur
Dalbir Kaur, the sister of Sarabit Singh, who fought a long battle to ensure release of her brother, is very upset over the callous attitude displayed by UPA government in this case. “This was not an attack merely on Sarabjit, but an invasion on dignity of Indian nation, and it becomes the duty of Indian Government to come out from deep slumber to act upon seriously for the safety of all other prisoners confined in various Pakistani jails. I might have lost my brother, but I don’t want to lose the other brothers languishing there for years,” she told Organiser on telephone.
At least now sever all ties with Pakistan: VHP
Condemning the killing of Sarabjit Singh in strongest words the VHP warned the UPA government to sever all ties with Pakistan forthwith. In a statement issued on May 2, VHP working president Dr Pravin Togadia said: “Sarabjit languished in Pak jail for 23 years. There are thousands of such Sarabjits in Pak jails for many years. We have been demanding exact details of these Indians, their names, places and their condition in Pak now, but no Government is giving this detail to us. Before, Sarabjit, many such cases happened but due to Bharat’s weak policies, Pak has become bold now. With Chinese military support now Pak has started daring not only the Indian Government but also the Hindustanis! No more. Hindustanis will not tolerate Pak’s mischief anymore.” Dr Togadia also demanded Paramveer Chakra for Sarabjit and suitable compensation for his family members.