Seven days after being brutally attacked in jail, Indian prisoner on death row Sarabjit Singh died on Thursday at 1 am in Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital, triggering massive outrage across India.
While Pakistan had put his life through hell when alive, a similar mindset was at work even after Sarabjit died. At the airport, Pakistani authorities till the last minute haggled over paperwork, delaying the take-off of the flight bringing his body back to India on Thursday evening.
While Sarabjit’s medical condition had been deteriorating ever since the attack on April 26, Pakistan foreign office gave cardiac arrest as the official reason for his demise. Strangely, it also described the attack on Sarabjit as a “scuffle with fellow inmates”. Ironically, death struck just as India had asked Pakistan to airlift Sarabjit to a third country for better medical treatment, which Islamabad had not rejected outrightly.
The news of his death was received with shock and anger. The nation’s outrage was reflected in a resolution passed in Parliament condemning the “inhuman treatment” meted out to him in Pakistan jail. While Prime Minister Manmohan Singh belatedly acknowledged Sarabjit as a brave son of India, Parliamentarians cutting across party lines termed Sarabjit’s death a “brutal murder”.
Parliament expressed hope that “the cuplrits will be brought to book”, even as the BJP MPs raised anti- Pakistan slogan in the Well of the Lok Sabha. Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal had met the caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Najam Sethi in Lahore in the afternoon, who told that a judicial inquiry has been ordered into the incident.
Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said the incident would have a negative impact on the ties. “There has to be a sustainable and long-lasting relationship between the two neighbouring countries. That relation has been hurt by what has happened today,” the External Affairs Minister said.