The love-hate relations between India and Pakistan suffered another blow with the death of Indian citizen Sarabjit Singh in Pakistan.
Singh was badly beaten up last week in a Pakistani jail allegedly by fellow inmates. Singh suffered a serious head injury and slipped into coma soon after. He was in a Pakistani hospital for four days.
He had been arrested in 1991 and sentenced to death by a Pakistani court on charges of spying and carrying out bomb blasts in Pakistan,
Singh’s family – which maintained he was arrested on mistaken identity after he inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated state – and the Indian government had requested Pakistan to Singh him to India or a third country for better treatment. Strangely, this was turned down by Pakistan for inexplicable reasons.
However, following Singh’s death today at a Pakistani hospital, the Pakistani authorities sent his body to India. Singh will be accorded a state funeral in his hometown of Bhikhiwind in Punjab on Friday. According to reports, India would conduct its own autopsy to ascertain the death of Singh.
Emotions were running high in India after news of his death spread.
“The criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on him must be brought to justice,” said Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
He added, “It is particularly regrettable that the government of Pakistan did not heed the pleas of the government of India, Sarabjit’s family and of civil society in India and Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of this case.”
Pakistan justified its action saying it provided “the best” treatment for Singh.
Reacting to the demise of Singh, Salman Khurshid, India’s foreign minister, told reporters: “A sustainable and long-lasting relationship between two countries has to be between people. That relation has been hurt by what has happened today.”
According India’s foreign ministry spokesperson, as of January 2013, there are 215 Indian fishermen and 55 Indian nationals other than fishermen in Pakistani jails.