A day after being attacked by some fellow inmates,Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh is in deep coma and has been put on ventilator support,officials said Saturday. Meanwhile,four of his family members are set to travel to Pakistan tomorrow.
The Pakistani high commission in Delhi said gratis (free of charge) visas have been granted to Sarabjits sister Dalbir Kaur,his daughters Poonam and Swapandeep Kaur,and his wife Sukhpreet Kaur.
Saying they would cross the Attari border tomorrow,Dalbir Kaur said government officials have informed her that the Pakistani government will allow one family member to stay in the Lahore hospital where Sarabjit is being treated.
Sarabjit,49,who was rushed to Lahores Jinnah hospital on Friday night,cannot be operated upon till his condition stabilises,doctors attending to him said.
In the first official statement from the Pakistani government on the incident,its foreign office said,As a result of a scuffle between prisoners at the Kot Lakhpat Jail,Lahore,yesterday,Sarabjit suffered head injuries which rendered him unconscious. Doctors and medical staff at the hospital are working round-the-clock to revive the prisoner,who remains unconscious and on a ventilator.
In Delhi,Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: It is very sad,some inmates attacked him in jail. I think that is a very sad development. Singh was hit on the head with bricks,and his neck and torso cut with blades and pieces of a ghee tin. The Lahore police have registered a case of attempted murder against two prisoners,Amer Aftab and Mudassar,both on death row. The duo have been booked under Sections 324 (attempted murder) and 334 (causing severe injuries) of the Pakistan Penal Code.
Sources quoted doctors at Jinnah Hospital as saying that Sarabjits condition was measured as 5 on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS),which indicates the level of damage or injury to a persons central nervous system. The GCS comprises tests of eye,verbal and motor responses. The lowest possible GCS score is 3 while the highest is 15.
Two Indian high commission officials were granted consular access to Sarabjit this morning. The officials obtained access to Sarabjit in the ICU of Jinnah Hospital,Lahore at 2 am, said MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin. Doctors attending to Sarabjit informed the Indian officials that he is in coma on ventilator and receiving IV drip, he said.
While doctors have carried out X-rays,MRI and CT scans on him,they are awaiting stabilisation in condition before conducting further tests,said Akbaruddin.
The assault on Sarabjit comes a few months after the death of Indian prisoner Chamel Singh in the same jail after he was allegedly attacked by some jail officials.
Sarabjits lawyer,Owais Sheikh,has alleged that his client had received threats after Afzal Guru was executed in February. Sarabjit was convicted for his alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990.
With PTI inputs