Two years ago inside the precincts of Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail, retired Justice Amarbir Singh Gill had met a “tall and able-bodied” Sarabjit Singh, whose main worry was to return to his family in India. The next time he saw Sarabjit, he was lying comatose on a hospital bed. “It was shocking, so shocking to see him in this condition,” Justice Gill said.
He had travelled along with retired Justice M A Khan as part of the joint Indo-Pak judicial committee to examine the condition of prisoners in both India and Pakistani jails. In April 2011, Gill met Sarabjit inside the Lahore jail, when Indian prisoners were lined up for interviews with panel members.
Gill remembers embracing Sarabjit towards the end of the visit. “I hugged him. That was my way of giving him reassurance,” he reminisced.
Sarabjit’s death had a grim irony since the two Indian justices arrived in Pakistan a few hours after Sarabjit was attacked on April 26.
“It was our considered view that without the involvement of jail authorities, Sarabjit could not have been attacked,” said Gill.
He also did not buy the official narration of Sarabjit’s attack that only two prisoners were involved in the attack. “This is my personal view, but Sarabjit could not have been overpowered by just two people. There had to be more… He was a tall, stout and a former wrestler.”