The worst fears since Sarabjit Singh was attacked in Kot Lakhpat Jail on April 28 have turned true with Pakistan’s official declaration of the death of the Indian prisoner. His sister Dalbir Kaur,who had led a long struggle along with his wife and two daughters to save him from gallows,had returned to homeland yesterday evidently after the doctors offered no hope. Even their plea for the treatment of Sarabjit in India or any other country,was turned down. That Sarabjit’s life was under threat from fellow prisoners was well known,particularly since the execution of Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru,but the Pakistan Government did not take adequate steps and there appears to be truth in the fact that the fatal attack on him inside the high-security jail was done in complicity of the jail officials or even those at higher echleons.
The barbaric attack on Sarabjit is not the only case of gross violation of human rights on Indian prisoners and soldiers in Pakistan. A couple of months ago,another Indian prisoner Chamel Singh,was treated in a similar manner. Only a few months ago two of our soldiers were brutally tortured and the headless body of one of them was handed over back to us. That Pakistan has been getting away with such gross human rights violations reflects on the soft diplomacy being practised by India. Only recently the United States had led a campaign to get a resolution passed against Sri Lanka through the United National Human Rights Organisation. India should have taken similar steps and should have exerted more pressure on Pakistan to release Sarabjit Singh,particularly in view of the evidence that he was framed only through a ‘confessional’ statement evidently taken under duress. His family’s pleas that it was a case of mistaken identity was not even considered. It is high time India steps up its diplomatic efforts. Pakistan’s civil society should also join its counterparts in India to stop human rights violations in Pakistan.
Although six prisoners were involved in the attack on Sarabjit as per initial reports,only two have been charged with the attack. Also,no action has yet been taken against jail officials. The sincerity of Pakistan government on the issue would be reflected in the sort of punishment it metes out to his attackers as well as the jail personnel who failed to protect him in the jail premises.