Lahore/Islamabad. Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital in the wee hours on Thursday after being comatose for nearly a week following a brutal assault by fellow inmates in a high-security Pakistani jail, officials said.
“I received a call from the doctor on duty (at Jinnah Hospital) at 1am (1:30 IST) informing me that Sarabjit is no more,” Mahmood Shaukat, the head of a medical board that was supervising 49-year-old Sarabjit’s treatment, told.
Another doctor, who was part of the team treating Sarabjit, said he died of cardiac arrest, adding that doctors made several unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate him.
Officials of the Indian high commission in Islamabad said they had been informed by officials of Jinnah Hospital about Sarabjit’s death.
Sarabjit sustained severe injuries when at least six prisoners attacked him in a barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday, hitting him on the head with bricks.
Sarabjit was convicted of alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990 and spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons.
His family, who had just returned to India after visiting him in Jinnah hospital, always insisted Sarabjit was innocent and he had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.
His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf.
The previous Pakistan People’s Party-led government put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period in 2008.
Sarabjit’s heart was beating “but without brain function” because of the extensive head injuries he sustained during the assault. He was completely unresponsive and unable to breathe without ventilator support.
Shaukat said authorities were yet to decide on conducting an autopsy on Sarabjit’s body.
Asked whether the autopsy would be done after getting permission from the government, he said: “At the moment I have no idea.
No decision had been made about handing over the body to Sarabjit’s kin or to Indian authorities, Shaukat said.
“These matters will be worked out according to the directions from the government,” he said.
The official sources in Lahore had yesterday said Sarabjit had slipped into a “non-reversible” coma and this could lead to “brain death”.
His measurements on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which indicates the levels of consciousness and damage to a person’s central nervous system, had dropped to a “critical level”, the sources said.
Police have booked two death row prisoners, Amer Aftab and Mudassar for the attack on Sarabjit. They reportedly told investigators that they had attacked Sarabjit because he had allegedly carried out bomb attacks in Lahore.
No action has been taken so far against officials of the jail for failing to provide adequate security to Sarabjit.
Following the rapid deterioration in Sarabjit’s condition, New Delhi had requested that he be immediately released so that he could be treated in India or a third country.
Pakistan had said it was “positively considering” the request to repatriate Sarabjit.
India asks Pakistan to punish his attackers
New Drlhi. Asserting that Sarabjit Singh’s death was a killing of an Indian citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities, India on Thursday demanded that Pakistan conduct a through probe into the incident to ensure that those who are responsible were punished.
It also said that the shocking attack on Sarabjit highlights the needs of concerted action by Pakistan to safeguard Indians in Pakistani jails.
“We express great anguish at the demise of Sarabjit Singh who succumbed to injuries after the brutal attack on him in Kot Lakhpat Jail. This was, put simply, the killing of our citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities. We demand that the government of Pakistan conducts a through investigation to identify those who were responsible, and to ensure that they are punished,” Ministry of External Affairs said today in a release here.
The Ministry also said that it shares the pain and sorrow of Sarabjit’s family and has asked has the Pakistani authorities to release his body so that he can be given a funeral in Indian and among his own people.
Sarabjit, 49, died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital in the wee hours today after being comatose for nearly a week following a brutal assault by fellow inmates in the high-security Pakistani jail.
Sarabjit sustained severe injuries when at least six prisoners attacked him in a barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday, hitting him on the head with bricks. (PTI)