M A I N   N E W S

Parliament resolution condemns Sarabjit’s killing
Prime Minister calls him ‘brave son of India’, assails Pakistan
Rajnath Singh wants envoy recalled
Ashok Tuteja & Syed Ali Ahmed
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 2
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today expressed outrage over Sarabjit Singh’s death and attacked Pakistan for not heeding to India’s pleas for taking a humanitarian view of the Indian death row convict’s case. The BJP went a step further and demanded the scaling down of diplomatic relations with Islamabad.

Parliament passed a unanimous resolution, condemning the “inhuman treatment” meted out to Sarabjit in Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat Jail leading to his death and asked the Pakistan authorities to bring to book those who carried out the murderous assault on him.

3-day mourning in Punjab
The Punjab Government has announced a three-day mourning in the state. Flags will fly at half mast on all government buildings and there will be no official functions during this period.

Rs 1 crore aid for family
The Punjab Government has extended Rs 1-crore financial assistance to Sarabjit Singh’s family.

tWO BOOKED for murder
The Pakistan police on Thursday slapped murder charges against the two death row prisoners who were booked for the brutal assault on fellow inmate Sarabjit Singh.

Pak orders judicial probe
The Pakistan authorities have ordered a judicial inquiry into Sarabjit’s murder. Punjab caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi has directed the officials to complete the probe within 15 days.

As protests erupted in parts of the National Capital following Sarabjit’s death, his distraught family members met Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa and other leaders at National Commission for Scheduled Castes vice-chairman Raj Kumar Verka’s residence here and demanded that he be declared a “martyr” and cremated with full state honours.

They also asked the government to take full responsibility of the family - Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam and Swapandeep and sister Dalbir Kaur.

Dalbir Kaur complained that her brother had been killed in the Pakistan jail due to government’s negligence. Had the government taken the case seriously, Sarabjit would have come home alive.

She alleged that a Pakistan official had demanded Rs 25 crore as bribe for Sarabjit’s life. When she expressed her helplessness, the official concerned reduced the bribe amount to Rs 2 crore.

Soon after India woke up to the news of Sarabjit’s death in Pakistan, the Prime Minister said: “I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Sarabjit. He was a brave son of India who bore his tribulations with valiant fortitude.”

Manmohan Singh underlined that the criminals responsible for the “barbaric and murderous attack” must be brought to justice.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said he was “extremely anguished” by Sarabjit’s death, adding it had hurt the relations with Islamabad.

New Delhi asserted that it had been taking up Sarabjit’s case with the Pakistan authorities at every level since 2005. “If we were not convinced that Sarabjit is innocent, we would not have taken up his case,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

BJP president Rajnath Singh criticised the manner in which the government handled the Sarabjit issue. Had India taken effective diplomatic steps, such an incident would not have taken place, he said, demanding the recall of the Indian envoy to Islamabad as a mark of protest.

Members in both Houses of Parliament also expressed their anguish over Sarabjit’s death and adopted a resolution, condemning the “inhuman treatment” meted out to the Indian prisoner. The members also conveyed their condolences to the bereaved family and stood in silence as a mark of respect to the departed.

While Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari cancelled the dinner he was to host in honour of National Film award winners, Rajya Sabha member MS Gill asked the government to ensure that Sarabjit’s family members were adequately compensated.




Family receives body at Bhikhiwind
Perneet Singh/TNS

State funeral today
Sarabjit will be cremated with full state honours at Bhikhiwind village at 2 pm on Friday, said Revenue Minister Bikram Majithia. The cremation will be attended by CM Parkash Singh Badal. Rahul Gandhi may also attend the ceremony.

SAD, Cong in tug-of-war
Leaders of the ruling SAD and Opposition Congress remained caught up in a tug-of-war ahead of the body’s arrival at Amritsar. Some local Congress leaders complained of being denied entry to the Aviation Club premises. The charge was later refuted by an Akali minister.

Amritsar, May 2
Sarabjit Singh’s body was taken to his native Bhikhiwind village late tonight. The family received the body around 1.30 am after a second postmortem examination was carried out at the Civil Hospital, Patti.

Earlier, a special aircraft carrying the body from Pakistan landed at the local Sri Guru Ram Das Jee International Airport around 7.45 pm amid daylong confusion.

It was received by Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, Punjab Revenue Minister Bikram Singh Majithia, SAD leader Ranjeet Singh Brahmpura, Union Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, Congress MPs Ravneet Bittu and Vijay Inder Singla along with other leaders.

The body was first taken for an X-ray scan before being put in an ambulance parked on the Aviation Club premises at the airport.

The body was then taken to the Air Force station from where it was flown to the Civil Hospital, Patti, for the postmortem examination. The autopsy, which was performed by a team of six doctors, lasted three hours.

Sarabjit’s family, including his sister Dalbir Kaur, wife Sukhpreet Kaur, and daughters Swapandeep Kaur and Poonam, were brought from Delhi in a special BSF aircraft along with National SC/ST Commission vice-chairman Raj Kumar Verka around 3.30 pm. The family members accompanied by Majithia were then flown in an Army helicopter to Bhikhiwind village. Confusion prevailed over the time of arrival of the body and the place of conducting the postmortem examination.

Preparations were made to conduct the postmortem both at Government Medical College, Amritsar, and Civil Hospital, Patti, in Tarn Taran district. Sarabjit's family had requested the state government to conduct the postmortem again as they wanted to know the exact cause of death.

Majithia had said the medical manual prescribed the conduct of postmortem from sunrise to sunset but if the family wanted to go ahead with it late in the evening, they were ready to do so. The family had urged the government to give them the possession of the body at the earliest. Heart-rending scenes were witnessed as soon the family arrived at Bhikhiwind around 4 pm.

(With inputs from Manmeet Singh Gill in Amritsar and Gurbax Puri in Tarn Taran)





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