M A I N   N E W S

Family returns, flays govt over ‘inaction’
Perneet Singh/TNS

‘Taliban threat’

Dalbir Kaur said she had been told that the Taliban had issued a threat to the family. “This is also one of the reasons we’re back. I wanted to drop the children home safely before returning to Pakistan.” Sarabjit’s younger daughter Poonam had also taken ill there, she said.

Attari (Amritsar), May 1
Angry and upset, Sarabjit Singh's family returned from Pakistan on Wednesday afternoon and hit out at the Indian Government for “letting them down and failing to do enough” to save the Indian death row prisoner.

Emotions ran high as Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur, wife Sukhpreet Kaur and daughters Swapandeep and Poonam broke down after coming face to face with the battery of mediapersons after crossing the international border at Attari-Wagah around noon.

Dalbir Kaur took charge and lashed out at the government saying she was disappointed with the government, as it had not initiated concrete measures to save Sarabjit. “I had informed the government of threats to Sarabjit’s life. They told me not to go to the media and I kept my promise, but the government let me down. The PM should resign if he is not able to bring back an Indian citizen. While you (government) failed to protect your citizen, they (Pakistan) got Dr Khalil Chishti freed,” she said.

She said she was surviving on tea and water and would have food only when her brother is brought back to India. Dalbir alleged there was a “pact” between the Indian and Pakistani governments over targeting those awarded capital punishment in view of the forthcoming polls in the countries. “If the Indian Government's intentions are honest, they can put pressure on Pakistan and bring back Sarabjit.”

Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur also alleged that Sarabjit’s condition was due to the Indian Government’s failure to act in time.

“This isn’t an attack on Sarabjit, it is an attack on India.”

The family left for New Delhi in the evening with National SC/ST Commission vice-chairman Rajkumar Verka. They will be meeting President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and External Affairs minister Salman Khurshid over the next two days. Dalbir Kaur said she would return to Pakistan after meeting the top leaders in New Delhi and hoped Pakistan will again grant her a visa again, if its “intentions are clean”. The family had a 15-day visa, but they chose to cut their visit short.

Dalbir Kaur said they would seek the intervention of the government to bring Sarabjit to India for treatment or send a team of Indian doctors to try and save his life. “We will tell the PM with folded hands that we have doubts about the treatment being given to Sarabjit in Pak.”

When asked why she was still seeking help from the Indian Government, she said, “Do I have a choice? I can only plead before our government.” She warned of a protest at the Attari border and said she will not allow any bus or truck to leave if the government didn’t help save her brother.

Dalbir Kaur rejected reports that Sarabjit has slipped into a ‘non-reversible coma’. “We visited Sarabjit five times and noticed a movement in his right hand. His right eye was also blinking,” she said, apprehensive of foul play now that the family is not by Sarabjit’s side.

She said Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital did not treat Sarabjit properly and they always had doubts over the line of treatment. “We were neither given Sarabjit’s medical reports nor did the doctors discuss the treatment with us. When we asked about Sarabjit’s condition, they told us not to argue with them,” she said. The doctors and external affairs ministry staff didn’t treat us well, she added.

An emotional Swapandeep Kaur said they had been waiting for a visa to Pakistan for long, but they never wanted to visit their father in this condition. “We were there, but he didn’t know his children had come to meet him,” she said, tears rolling down her cheeks.

“Now they have put strong security outside the hospital. What use it is now? Why didn’t they ensure my father’s security in jail?” She said the doctors were giving verbal reports to Indian High Commission officials on Sarabjit’s condition.

Dalbir Kaur said the Pakistani investigation into the brutal attack on Sarabjit was a sham. “It is nothing but eyewash. Nobody has been suspended or arrested,” she said, reiterating that the attack was a well-planned conspiracy, involving jail authorities.





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