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Suspense over Sarabjitís condition
Jinnah Hospital doctors confirm Indian prisonerís health has worsened
Afzal Khan in Islamabad

As Sarabjit Singh battles for life at Lahoreís Jinnah Hospital amid unconfirmed reports that he has been declared brain dead, the family of the Indian death row convict is planning to return home tomorrow.

While officially the doctors said that Sarabjitís condition had deteriorated, sources claimed that medically his brain was dead. His other body parts, though, were functioning. Sarabjit had been hit on the head hard, a number of times, which has damaged his brain, they said.

Sources said in such cases, patients only survive till they are on the ventilator. The hospital administration, however, had not yet decided to remove the ventilator, they claimed. Allama Iqbal Medical College principal Mahmood Shaukat, the head of a four-member medical board this is supervising Sarabjit's treatment, confirmed that his condition had deteriorated.

"In our latest investigation, there was no sign of improvement (in Sarabjit's condition). Rather, his condition has further deteriorated," Shaukat said.

Sarabjit was admitted to Jinnah Hospital in a critical condition after a vicious attack on him by fellow prisoners at the Kot Lakhpat Jail on April 26. He has been on ventilator support ever since.

Planned attack

Jail authoritiesí inquiry report has revealed that the attack on Sarabjit was planned, said sources. They claimed that the accused had been trying to attack Singh for the past several days. Sarabjitís lawyer, Awais Shaikh, told Dawn he had written a number of letters to prison authorities, as well as high-level government officials on the complaint of his client that certain inmates were threatening him and his life was in danger. Shaikh added that these requests were not heeded.

Sarabjit was attacked by two fellow inmates - Amir Tanba and Mudasir - when he was outside his cell for a routine walk along with other death row inmates. Two armed jail wardens - Adnan and Safdar - were also present on the spot and tried to stop the attackers but failed and were themselves injured in the brawl.

The jail security force somehow managed to control the situation and grievously injured Sarabjit was immediately taken to the jailís hospital, from where he was transferred to Jinnah Hospital.

Quoting statements of the accused, sources said they had a grudge against Sarabjit over his role as a spy and a convicted attacker.

On the directives of the interior ministry, different investigative teams have started probes in connection with the attack. Deputy Superintendent of Police Prisons Malik Mubashir will submit a report within three days.

A second team, headed by Inspector General of Police Prisons Punjab Mian Farooq Nazir has completed its inquiry and recorded the statements of both attackers, other inmates, the injured wardens and other security officials. The second team has already submitted its initial inquiry report to the Punjab home department.

(With inputs from agencies)

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