Sarabjit Singh dies, Pakistan to hand over his body to India

PTI | May 2, 2013,

Pak to return Sarabjit's body after postmortem

Pak to return Sarabjit’s body after postmortem

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thurday said the body of Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Lahore hospital after a brutal assault in jail, will be handed over to Indian authorities after “the early completion of all formalities”.

The Pakistan government will continue to facilitate the “early completion of all formalities and hand over the mortal remains of the prisoner to the Indian High Commission at the earliest possible”, said a statement from the Pakistan Foreign Office.

The body of 49-year-old Sarabjit was moved to the mortuary of Jinnah Hospital in Lahore shortly after he died of cardiac arrest at around 1am. (1:30am IST)

He had been comatose since Friday, when he was attacked by six other prisoners within his barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail.

The Foreign Office said the Pakistan government had been providing “all assistance to the family of Sarabjit Singh as well as to the Indian authorities since the occurrence of this unfortunate incident”.

The statement said Sarabjit had died of cardiac arrest despite being “provided the best treatment available” and the staff of Jinnah Hospital working round the clock to save his life.

Pakistan’s foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani was quoted by the media as saying that the body would be “expeditiously” handed over to India after completing necessary formalities.

Official sources in Islamabad and Lahore said an autopsy and other formalities will have to be completed before handing over the body. A medical board will oversee the autopsy.

The Indian High Commission was in touch with both the federal and Punjab governments on the issue, the sources said.

Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal, who is in Lahore, is expected to meet Punjab caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi this afternoon.

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.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed sadness over Sarabjit’s death, saying criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on the Indian national must be brought to justice.

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 says he was the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.

Sarabjit’s 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.

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.

Sarabjit should be declared a martyr: Family

The family of Sarabjit Singh, Indian prisoner who succumbed to injuries after being brutally assaulted in a Lahore jail, has demanded that his body be handed over to them and he should be declared a “martyr”.

The family has set forth demand to the Union home ministry including that Sarabjit’s body be cremated with full state honours, Raj Kumar Verka, vice chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes, told PTI.

They have also demanded that the Centre take full responsibility of the family, Verka said.

The government will hold a meeting today to consider the demands of Sarabjit’s family, he added.

Verka said Sarabjit’s family members, who are with him at his New Delhi residence, are in a state of shock after receiving the news of his death.

He said he has forwarded the demands to the Union home ministry and is in touch with the Central leaders, including home minister Sushilkumar Shinde himself.

 

Pakistan releases 10 indian prisoners inlcuding 7 Fiishermen #goodnews

Yudhvir Rana, TNN
AMRITSAR: Pakistan government has released 10 Indian prisoners including 7 fishermen from Karachi‘s Landhi jail and from other jails of Punjab on Thursday. The released prisoners would reach Wagah(Pakistan) border on Friday from where they will be handed over to Indian authorities, informed Pakistan’s former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney on Thursday.

Providing details, vice chairman of the Ansar Burney International Trust, Syed Fahad Burney said that they would receive the Indian prisoners from jail and would take them to Wagah(Pakistan) border in the trusts’ vehicles and handover them to Pakistan Rangers.

Indian fishermen who are being released by Pakistan are Mansingh Bhagwan , Khema , Shivdas, Manno, Bharat Dheeru, Govind Bamaniya and Lala Pansa Pansa Bhika Belu. The trust had taken up the cases of these 7 Indian fishermen with Pakistan government . “Still there are around 100 Indian fisherman are lodged in jails and the trust would also take up their case and appeal for their early release on humanitarian grounds” said Burney.

Burney informed that Ansar Burney International Trust had also planned to initiate a movement for the release of Indian condemned prisoners Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh seeking their release on technical and humanitarian grounds.

The Trust would begin a nation wide movement for the release of Indian prisoners on death row Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh. “Both of them have spend more than two decades in jail waiting to be hanged every day even as living a in the death cell is horrible” he said.

“Their release from Pakistan jail will help to ease tension between two nations and bring trust” he said. He said he had convened a meeting of Trust office bearers and other like minded associations to chalk out their future course of action for the release of Sarabjit and KirpalSingh.

 

Sarabjit, Kirpal may get life as Pak commutes death penalties #goodnews

 

, TNN | Aug 13, 2012, 05.25AM IST

AMRITSAR: The Pakistan government has provided a fresh lease of life to Indian death row prisoners Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh when it began the process of commuting all death sentences into life imprisonment.

According to Pakistan’s former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney, it’s for the first time that Pakistan has taken such a step. The move comes four years after former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani had announced to commute all death sentences into life imprisonment.

Burney told TOI on Sunday over the phone from Khartoum in Sudan, where he is on a humanitarian mission, that Pakistan government has sought advice from relevant ministries and provincial authorities by Monday, August 13.

He said that Ansar Burney Trust International had also filed several petitions with President Asif Ali Zardari requesting that all death sentences be commuted to life imprisonments considering that a large number of those condemned to death were either innocent or had spent decades awaiting death.

Gilani had announced during an address to the national assembly on June 21 2008, soon after assuming office, that his government would take a proposal to the presidency to convert all death penalties into life-terms. Burney informed that over 7,500 prisoners in Pakistani jails were on death row.

“Many are innocent and victims of false testimonies or circumstances like Sarabjit and Kirpal. Hundreds are now physically and mentally disabled due to decades of imprisonment in the harshest conditions,” Burney said.

ABOVE– kirpal caught in 1991 and today

 

Open Letter Demanding the Release of Baba Jan Hunzai- Noam Chomsky

  • by Signed by Tariq Ali, Noam Chomsky, Farooq Tariq…

    FREEBABAJAN2.jpg
  • For the past 8 months Baba Jan Hunzai and four fellow activists have languished in various jails of Gilgit. Twice in this period he has been removed from jail and tortured by military and police agents.  He and his colleagues have been charged under Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Ordinance.  Baba Jan, however, is not a terrorist.  He is a respected political activist of Gilgit-Baltistan (the mountainous north of Pakistan). He is being held due to his activism in support of the oppressed of the region and must be released immediately.

    In January 2010, a mountain collapsed into Hunza River and created what is now termed the Attabad Lake.  As the lake formed, village after village was submerged.  In total, over 1000 were displaced and over 25,000 were cut off from the rest of the country (the lake had destroyed the one road that connects the area to Pakistan).  The plight of Gilgit-Baltistanis was ignored. Baba Jan, an activist of Labour Party of Pakistan, toured the country lobbying for the government to drain the lake and create transport facilities for the affected. The Pakistan Peoples Party government acted too late.  The lake is now a permanent feature of the area. To off-set the protests of the displaced, the government promised compensation.

    For some, compensation never arrived.  An official list of those who were to receive compensation named 457 families.  However, over a hundred of these families did not receive their compensation. Allegedly, the compensation, instead, went to families who were sympathizers of the Pakistan Peoples Party.

    On 11th August around 200 people protested for the rights of those families who had not received compensation as the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Mehdi Shah, was visiting the town of Aliabad.  The police, instructed to remove the protesters by any means, started with a baton-charge, then used tear gas before opening fire with live ammunition. Their first victim was Afzal Baig, a 22 year old student. Then, when Baig’s father tried to retrieve the body of his son, he too was shot. Both died. The valley erupted and a police station was burnt down by the protesters.

    Baba Jan arrived 6 hours later. He organised the protesters and they were promised an investigation and firm action against the police officers responsible for the killing.  The protesters waited for the government to act.

    It acted a week later.  Arrest warrants were issued for numerous protesters including Baba Jan.  While most of those arrested have been released on bail, Baba Jan and 4 activists remain behind bars.  Twice they have been picked up from jail and tortured.  First, starting on the 12th of September 2011,   for three nights for three to four hours at a time, he was beaten with sticks and had his feet crushed under boots, while, another activist (Iftikhar) had candle wax dropped on his genitals.  Again on the 28th of April 2012, Baba Jan was tortured.  Police and Pakistani Rangers (a paramilitary force) entered his jail cell and beat him up. They then whisked him to an unknown location where he was again brutally beaten, and to humiliate him, had his head shaved. He has fractured fingers and is being denied medical treatment. Further, he has been moved to Zulfiqarabad Jail, Gilgit, and put in a cell with hardened criminals.  There is reason to believe that he may be killed ‘accidentally’ while in this cell.

    Meanwhile, a judicial inquiry into the killing of Afzal Baig and his father was conducted.  Its findings have not been made public but journalists who have seen it claim it lays the blame on the police force and local bureaucracy for the incident.

     

    We, the undersigned, call on the Government of Pakistan to publish the findings of the judicial inquiry into the killing of Afzal Baig and Sher Ullah Baig.  We call on the Government of Pakistan to treat Baba Jan and fellow activists as political prisoners and kept in separate cells from other prisoners.  Further, we ask the Government of Pakistan to drop the charge it has manufactured against Baba Jan and fellow activists. We also demand compensation for the families affected by the Attabad landslide.

     

    Tariq Ali, Writer

    Noam Chomsky, MIT

    Qalandar Bux Memon, FC College

    Pervaiz Vandal, Architect

    Amanullah Kariapper, Activist

    R C Young, New York University

    Vijay Prashad, Trinity College

    Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, Birkbeck, University Of London

    David Barsamian, Journalist

    Magid Shihade, Birzeit University

    Saadi Toor, Writer

    Farooq Tariq, Labour Party of Pakistan

    Simon Crithcley, New School, New York

     

    Please go sign petition here: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/free-baba-jan

    original post here

Baba Jan, ‘prisoner of climate change’ in Pakistan tortured

Letter of protest

May 3, 2012

To:

His Excellency Mr Abdul Malik Abdullah
High Commissioner for Pakistan
4 Timbarra Crescent, O’Malley
ACT 2606

parepcanberra@internode.on.net

Cc: Mr Azam Mohammed
Consul General for Pakistan
Level 7, 32 Martin Place,
Sydney 2000

parepsydne@comcen.com.au

Dear Sir,

We have been informed by the Labour Party of Pakistan that Baba Jan, Waqar and other activists in Gilgit district jail were severely beaten and tortured by dozens of Rangers, Police and Frontier Constabulary in the early morning of April 28, 2012.

We are especially concerned for the fate of Baba Jan, who was taken from the Gilgit district jail by security personnel and transported to a place unknown.

We strongly protest against this violence and object to the prison authorities’ ban on visitors to these political activists. It would seem that the responsible authorities have failed in their duty to maintain safe custody of these persons. This kind of treatment of political activists should not be acceptable in a democratic Pakistan.

We are writing to request that that you pass on to your government our urgent request that Baba Jan, Waqar and all other activists be released from custody immediately and that the ban by Gilgit district jail authorities on vistors to these activists be lifted. Further, we ask you to please determine and advise us of the location of Baba Jan and any others taken from Gilgit district jail?

The Gilgit district jail authorities should publicly indicate the health status of each of Baba Jan, Waqar and the other activists – their families are also very worried. They are considered to be in dire need of medical assistance – something the authorities should facilitate. We request that they are immediately released and, if necessary, be promptly transferred to hospital.

We are extremely anxious for the safety of the above persons, and wish to have information as to their legal and health status as soon as possible.

We look forward to hearing from you soon about this matter as we are having emergency discussions with concerned prominent individuals, Members of Parliament in Australia, media and human rights organisations about future action on this case. Further, our European office is briefing organisations and MPS in that region about this concern.

There is a very broad layer of people around the world who are concerned about the fate of Baba Jan and his fellow activists because they are seen as political casualties of the deepening global climate change crisis. They are imprisoned for their roles in the campaign by poor local residents who were demanding compensation for the devastating landslide and flood in the Hunza Valley in 2010.

International flood relief campaigns for Pakistan have also increased public awareness of the situation. The success of future emergency appeals could be compromised if there were serious concerns that the victims of flooding and their advocates are being mistreated by Pakistani officials at any level of government.

For all the abovementioned reasons, it would be a good idea for the Government of Pakistan to act most promptly on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Boyle
National Co-Convenor
Socialist Alliance (Australia)

For background information see: