Naresh Gujral hopes Pakistan allows 'ailing' Sarabjit to be airlifted to Delhi

Last Updated: Wed, May 01, 2013 11:00 hrs

Asserting that improving relations between India and Pakistan should be paramount, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) MP Naresh Gujral on Wednesday expressed hope that Islamabad would at least allow Sarabjit Singh, the Indian prisoner who is in a comatose state at a Lahore hospital, to be airlifted to New Delhi so that he can receive the best possible treatment.

"I would not like to indulge in the blame game. What has happened is very sad. And I think right now, we should not try to create ill-will or acrimony between the two countries," Gujral told the media here.

"Improving Indo-Pak relations should be paramount. And I do hope that in order to further strengthen our relations, the Pakistan Government would at least allow him to be airlifted to Delhi so that he can receive the best possible treatment," he added.

Sarabjit's family, who returned home today after meeting him at a hospital in Pakistan, lashed out at the Congress-led UPA Government at the Centre for allegedly failing to bring him back from Lahore.

Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur demanded Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh's resignation, saying he did not do enough for her brother.

"First of all, I would ask Manmohan Singh to resign immediately because you could not save your own citizen from Pakistan. Zardari came here and took away Chishti. You released all their prisoners. But you could not save Sarabjit," she told mediapersons here.

Kaur said she was 'extremely disappointed' with the Indian Government because it did not take firm steps to help Sarabjit.

"I am very disappointed with the government because it could not take firm steps to help him," she told mediapersons after she crossed the Wagah border along with Sarabjit's wife and daughters.

She also claimed that there is connivance between the Indian and Pakistani Governments on the issue.

Kaur said that Sarabjit could still be revived.

"What kind of investigation is Pakistan conducting? It's a shame," she said.

Sarabjit's sister, who declared to go on a hunger strike, said that she would meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in the national capital to discuss her brother's case.

"I would also like to tell the Prime Minister that Sarabjit is still alive and wants to live, but I suspect Pakistan's treatment and its motive," she said.

Kaur demanded that Indian doctors should be called in to assist in Sarabjit's treatment.

Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam and Swapandeep Kaur and his sister crossed over into India from Lahore through land border today.

The family had gone to Pakistan on a 15-day visa on Sunday after they were granted emergency visas.

The condition of Sarbajit Singh, who is in a special intensive care unit of the state-run Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, had further deteriorated on Tuesday night.

Sarabjit, 49, sustained several injuries, including a skull fracture, when six prisoners attacked him in Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday afternoon. He was hit on the head with bricks and his neck and torso cut with sharp weapons.

Sarabjit's sister, his wife and two daughters had gone to Pakistan on Sunday.

India had earlier asked Pakistan to take a sympathetic and humanitarian view of Sarabjit's case and release him.

"In view of the recent tragic events and present circumstances, we once again appeal to the Government of Pakistan to take a sympathetic and humanitarian view of this case, and release Sarabjit Singh," said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

The Prime Minister had earlier termed the assault on Sarabjit inside the jail as a "very sad" incident.

"It is very sad. I think in the jail, I think some inmates attacked him. I think that is very sad," Dr. Singh said.

Sarabjit Singh, the Indian national on death row in Pakistan, was attacked inside Lahore's Kot Lakhpat Jail when he and other prisoners were brought out of their cells for an hour-long break.

Two prisoners assaulted Sarabjit with blunt objects and he sustained a severe head injury.

Sarabjit Singh was arrested in Pakistan in 1991 and sentenced to death on charges of spying and carrying out four bomb blasts that killed 14 people.

However, his family contends he is innocent and a victim of wrong identity who crossed into Pakistan in 1990 in an inebriated state. (ANI)

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