Indian spy dies after jail attack in Pak; Dead body handed over to India, Martyr status triggers debate

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Published: May 3, 2013

Amritsar, Punjab (May 03, 2013): Sarabjeet Singh, an alleged Indian spy who remained on death row in Pakistan for more than a decade, and whose death sentence was commuted to like imprisonment by President of Pakistan in May 2012, was fatally attacked by some jail inmates few days back. Sarabjeet, who was on life support system, was declared dead by the Jinha Hospital authorities on early morning of May 02.

Sarabjeet Singh

The family members of Sarabjeet Singh, as well as Indian authorities were maintaining that Sarabjeet Singh was a victim of mistaken identity as he had drunkenly crossed the Indo-Pak border.

Pakistan authorities have reportedly handed over the dead body of Sarabjeet Singh after conducting an autopsy. His body was brought to Amritsar, India through a special Indian plane. His last rites shall be performed today at his native village Bhikhiwind (Tarn Taran, Punjab).

Sarabjeet Singh’s family was brought from Delhi to Bhikhiwind in a Indian air-force helicopter.

As per media reports Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh termed Sarabjeet Singh as “brave son of India”, on the other hand Punjab government led by Parkash Singh Badal has declared him as a “martyr”. The Badal government has announced three days official mourning on the demise of Sarabjeet Singh. Badal has declared Rupees 1 crore (10 million) ex-gratia for Sarabjeet’s family and has offered government jobs for his daughters.

The family members of Sarabjeet Singh reportedly made a demand yesterday that the Central Government of India should declare Sarabjeet – a “martyr”. As per reports India’s minister of Home affairs Sushil Kumar Shinde made a remark that the GOI shall favourably consider the demand made Sarabjeet’s family.

Meanwhile, there are reports that BJP is accusing Congress led UPA government of India for suffering foreign policy failure in this matter, where as Parneet Kaur, a Central minister from Punjab has appealed that political colour should not be given to the death of Sarabjeet Singh. She reportedly denied that there was any foreign policy favour in this matter.

Human Rights groups such as Amnesty International India, have also raised their concern over the attack and demise Indian prisoner in Pakistan. Amnesty has demanded the fair trial for persons who attacked Sarabjeet Singh in jail. Amnesty has sought that death penalty should not be imposed against them. It is notable that Amnesty International is against the imposition of death penalty in all circumstances, and was opposed to the execution of Sarabjeet Singh when he was facing death sentence in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, there are reports that Pakistani authorities have ordered judicial probe in this matter. As per media reports two inmates were charged with attempted murder (before demise of Sarabjeet Singh) and two jail officials were suspended in wake of the incident by Pakistani authorities.

Protests over demise of Sarabjeet Singh

There are reports that certain pro-Hindutva groups held agitations in Punjab against the Pakistan. As per reports Shiv Sena activists help protest against Pakistan.

According to a news reported by BBC Sarabjeet Singh was convicted by Pakistani court for spying and involvement in the 1990 bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad in which 14 people had died.

Meanwhile, the reaction of Indian authorities in this matter, and act of declaring Sarabjeet Singh to be martyr of India, has triggered a hot debate on social networking sites, such as Facebook.

While on the one hand many are favouring martyr status for him. They are of the view that Sarabjeet is an Indian icon. On the other hand many others are asking that “Why Sarabjeet Singh was being declared a martyr? and What he had done for the county?” and “does it confirm that he was an India spy”?

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