Sarabjit Singh could not have been fatally attacked within the prison “without the knowledge and support of prison guards and the authorities”,Pakistan’s leading rights watchdog said today.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan demanded action against “all those who played any part in the assault” on Sarabjit,who died in Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital after being comatose since the brutal assault on April 26.
“Not even the most naive person can believe that a prisoner like Sarabjit,in a death cell inside a jail,can be targeted in such a brutal assault by prisoners without the knowledge and support of prison guards and the authorities,” HRCP said in a statement.
“It was no secret that Sarabjit faced more threats than other prisoners on account of the charge that he was convicted of and yet his security was so completely compromised,” the statement said.
Sarabjit,49,was convicted of alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks across Punjab that killed 14 people in 1990.
His lawyer Awais Sheikh had alerted authorities of threats to his client following the hanging in Delhi of Afzal Guru over the 2001 terror attack on Indian parliament.
HRCP said the attack on Sarabjit was “far more serious a crime than allowing someone like Gen Pervez Musharraf to escape from court”.
The group was referring to Musharraf’s escape from the Islamabad High Court after a judge recently ordered his arrest over the imposition of emergency in 2007.
Pakistan and India should take urgent measures to prevent the murder of Sarabjit “from undermining bilateral ties and to improve the lot of detainees from the other country in each other’s prisons”,the organisation said.
It further said: “Those in Pakistan who take pride in their vengefulness must feel some shame today,if they are capable of that. Those elements in India who are no less vengeful,intolerant and fond of jingoism than their Pakistani counterparts would no doubt write their own script now.”
HRCP said it was concerned that Sarabjit’s death might undermine the hard work done by both countries to normalise relations.
“They will have to go out of their way to undo the damage that the murder,and the manner that it took place in,has done. The need to expeditiously conclude a judicial inquiry to bring all those who are involved to justice cannot be stressed enough,” it said.
“If the two countries begin to treat each other’s prisoners with some compassion even now instead of exposing them to the worst of treatment reserved for prisoners in their jails,then some good would still have come from Sarabjit’s brutal murder,” the statement said.
At least 532 Indian prisoners,including over 480 fishermen,are currently being held in jails in Lahore,Karachi and Rawalpindi.