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Mainstream, VOL LI No 21, May 11, 2013

Sarabjit’s Death: HRCP urges Justice, Steps to Contain Damage

Saturday 11 May 2013

On May 2, 2013 the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) demanded action against all those who played any part in the assault on the Indian prisoner, Sarabjit Singh, who died in a hospital on May 1, and called upon Islamabad and Delhi to take urgent measures to prevent the incident from undermining bilateral ties and to improve the lot of detainees from the other country in each other’s prisons.

In a statement issued in Lahore, the Commission said: “Not even the most naïve 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. This is far more serious a crime than allowing someone like General Pervez Musharraf to escape from court. 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 comp-letely compromised. He died when members of the joint Pak-India Judges Committee were visiting Pakistan in order to assess the conditions of detention of Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails.

“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.

“The HRCP is 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. 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.”

[This was issued and circulated by Zohra Yusuf, the HRCP Chairperson. However soon after, on May 3, a Pakistani prisoner, Sanaullah Ranjay, was likewise brutally attacked in Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal Jail, taken to Chandigarh for medical treatment, and expired on May 9. His death too is mourned by India’s democratic forces desirous of forging close India-Pakistan relations. The Government of India has also taken steps against recurrence of such savagery even as the culprits are
being brought to book.]

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