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Sarabjit will be given state funeral: Badal

CHANDIGARH: Describing Sarabjit Singh as a “national martyr”, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal on Thursday said that the Indian death row prisoner, who died in Pakistan, will be given a state funeral.

The 49-year-old Sarabjit’s death was an “entirely avoidable tragedy”, Badal said while strongly condemning the “inhuman treatment and brutal murder” of the prisoner right under the nose of the Pakistani authorities.

Expressing shock and grief over his death in a Lahore hospital after battling for his life for nearly a week, Badal said Sarabjit is a "national martyr who suffered unspeakable repression and torture with dignity."

He will be given a State funeral, the Chief Minister told reporters here.

Badal said the Punjab government will provide government jobs to Sarabjit’s two daughters. “We will also stand by the family for whatever help they need."

A special chartered plane is scheduled to bring Sarabjit’s body to Amritsar from Lahore, the Chief Minister said, adding that the mortal remains will be flown by a chopper to his village, Bikhiwind, for the last rites.

The government will move a resolution in the Punjab Assembly to condole the death of Sarabjit, he said.

Coming down heavily on the handling of the case by the central government, Badal said, “This is gross diplomatic failure and a sign of weakness on the part of Union government. Nations are run with a degree of strength of will, which is so missing in this government.

“We have this very sad feeling that the Government of India failed to articulate the national sentiment on Sarabjit and did not even take the necessary diplomatic initiative at a level where it was called for.”

Sarabjit died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital in the wee hours today after being comatose following a brutal assault by fellow inmates in a high-security Pakistani jail on Friday last. — PTIBack








India asks Pak to punish Sarabjit's attackers

NEW DELHI: Asserting that Sarabjit Singh’s death was a killing of an Indian citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities, India on Thursday demanded that Pakistan conduct a through probe into the incident to ensure that those who are responsible were punished.

It also said that the shocking attack on Sarabjit highlights the needs of concerted action by Pakistan to safeguard Indians in Pakistani jails.

“We express great anguish at the demise of Sarabjit Singh who succumbed to injuries after the brutal attack on him in Kot Lakhpat Jail. This was, put simply, the killing of our citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities. We demand that the government of Pakistan conducts a through investigation to identify those who were responsible, and to ensure that they are punished,” Ministry of External Affairs said today in a release here.

The Ministry also said that it shares the pain and sorrow of Sarabjit’s family and has asked has the Pakistani authorities to release his body so that he can be given a funeral in Indian and among his own people.

Sarabjit, 49, died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital in the wee hours today after being comatose for nearly a week following a brutal assault by fellow inmates in the high-security Pakistani jail.

Sarabjit sustained severe injuries when at least six prisoners attacked him in a barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday, hitting him on the head with bricks. — PTIBack






PM condoles Sarabjit’s death

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday condoled the death of Sarabjit Singh, hailing him as a “brave son of India”, and attacked Pakistan for not heeding to pleas for taking a humanitarian view on this issue after the deadly attack on the Indian national in a Lahore jail.

In a statement here hours after Sarabjit succumbed to injuries suffered in last week’s assault, Singh underlined that the criminals responsible for “the barbaric and murderous attack must be brought to justice“.

He said the government will make arrangements to bring 49-year-old Sarabjit’s remains home and for his last rites to be conducted in consultation with his family.

“I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Sarabjit Singh. He was a brave son of India who bore his tribulations with valiant fortitude,” the Prime Minister said in his condolence message.

“It is particularly regrettable that the government of Pakistan did not heed the pleas of the government of India, Sarabjit’s family and of the civil society in India and Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of this case,” he said.

He said the nation shares the profound grief of Sarabjit’s family. “May his soul be granted the peace that he could not enjoy in life,” he added.

Sarabjit died of cardiac arrest in a Pakistani hospital in the wee hours on Thursday after being comatose for nearly a week following a brutal assault by fellow inmates in a high-security jail. — PTIBack






Sarabjit's sister accuses Pak of backstabbing India

NEW DELHI: The sister of Sarabjit Singh, the death row prisoner who died on Thursday, accused Pakistan of backstabbing India and said she would fight for 'other Sarabjits' languishing in Pakistani jails.

An emotional Dalbir Kaur, who has been fighting for the release of Sarabjit, said successive governments in the country failed to bring back her brother who was a victim of mistaken identity.

"They backstabbed Atal Bihari Vajpayee first. Now they backstabbed (Prime Minister) Manmohan Singh. They have now attacked India's emotions by killing my brother. My brother has become a martyr for the country," she told reporters in New Delhi.

"(Pakistan President Asif Ali) Zardari killed my brother for (victory in) elections," she alleged, adding, "I will fight for the 'other Sarabjits' languishing in Pakistani jails."

She said that she has been raising the issue of Sarabjit since 2005 but no steps were taken by the government for his release. "If the steps had been taken, he would have been alive now," she said.

Kaur also claimed that a Pakistani human right activist had demanded at least Rs. two crore for the release of her brother.

"If I had given Rs 2 crore...,, my brother would have been alive now. The person demanded Rs 2 crore for the release of my brother. When I said that I am from a poor family, that person said if you cannot give Rs 25 crore, you will have to give at least Rs 2 crore.

"That person told me that if you gave the money in the morning, Sarabjit will be released in the evening and if you give the money in the evening, he will be set free the next morning," he alleged.

She said Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde has assured her all help and that Sarabjit will be honoured.

49-year-old Sarabjit died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital in the wee hours today after being comatose for nearly a week following a brutal assault by fellow inmates in a high-security Pakistani jail. — PTI







Parliament shocked at Sarabjit’s death

NEW DELHI: Parliament on Thursday expressed shock at the death of Sarabjit Singh and condemned the “inhuman treatment” meted out to him in a Pakistan jail where he was brutally assaulted last week.

The issue resonated in both Houses, with the Lok Sabha passing a resolution after two adjournments forced after members created an uproar and shouted anti-Pakistan slogans.

“This House expresses its deep sense of shock and sorrow on the sad demise of Sarabjit Singh, an Indian citizen in Jinnah Hospital, Lahore, in Pakistan today after he was brutally assaulted by his fellow inmates in a Pakistan jail,” said the resolution moved by Speaker Meira Kumar.

“This House condemns the inhuman treatment meted out to Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan jail and hopes that the culprits will be brought to book,” said the resolution.

The House mourned the demise with members standing in silence for a while as a mark of respect to Sarabjit.

The issue was raised as soon as the House assembled for the day, with BJP members storming the Well raising anti-Pakistan slogans in protest against Sarabjit’s death.

“Pakistan down down,” they chanted.

Shahnawaz Hussain (BJP) was questioning why the House was not condemning Pakistan.

The House witnessed two more adjournments on the issue as well as some other matters.

As the House met again at noon, the Speaker moved the resolution.

The Rajya Sabha also saw members protesting the death of Sarabjit and condemning the murderous assault.

Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said “today is a day of sadness, regret and anguish” in view of the way Sarabjit Singh was killed in Pakistan.

“I am sure the whole Parliament will raise its voice unanimously. The issue was lingering for long and we express our condolences with the family,” he said.

The BJP leader used the issue to target the government, and asked which way India’s foreign policy headed. “It is a sample of how our tottering government has turned coward,” he said.

Jaitley said Pakistan has lost several battles with India and this is an alternative to execution of death sentence that Pakistan has found. “Even birds cannot venture or fly near the prison cell as prisoners are kept in seclusion,” he said.

“A prisoner cannot be attacked like that and Pakistan’s claim that this is an act of non-state actors cannot be believed as it seems that Sarabjit was thrown before wolves,” Jaitley said.

He insisted that this could not have happened “without the total involvement of Pakistan government and police forces“.

He asked the government to do some introspection of its foreign policy.

BSP leader S.C. Mishra termed Sarbajit’s death as murder and said it needs to be condemned strongly. — PTI







Sajjan Kumar acquittal: Sikhs protest outside Sonia's house

NEW DELHI: On the second day of protests, Sikh groups shouted slogans outside Congress president Sonia Gandhi's residence and the Congress office on Thursday, over the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in a 1984 anti-Sikh riots case.

Burning effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sajjan Kumar, different Sikh groups gathered outside Gandhi's 10 Janpath residence.

"Over a thousand protesters marched towards Sonia Gandhi's residence, breaking two barricades. But they were blocked by the policemen. Similar scenes were witnessed at 24 Akbar Road (the Congress office)," a senior police officer told IANS.

A traffic police officer told IANS that several roads in central Delhi had been blocked to prevent angry protesters from reaching the Congress office and the residence of Sonia Gandhi. Among the roads closed to traffic and pedestrians were Akbar Road, Motilal Nehru Marg, Krishna Menon Marg, Mansingh Road, Maulana Azad Road and Janpath.

Police barricades, however, failed to deter protesters who stood as close as they could to the places they wished to reach, shouting slogans.

On Wednesday, protesters had blocked busy roads in the national capital. Metro services were also disrupted by the protests for a few hours.

The Sikh groups are angry at the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar by a city court Tuesday in a case related to the killing of five people in the Delhi Cantonment area during violence against Sikhs following the assassination of then prime minister Indira Gandhi Oct 31, 1984.

The court convicted five others in the same case.

Sajjan Kumar's acquittal comes almost three decades after an estimated 3,000 Sikhs were killed in three days of riots in India's capital and elsewhere. — IANS




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