New Delhi: Political leaders cutting across party lines Thursday said they were deeply saddened by the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, asserting that it was the responsibility of Pakistan to ensure his safety.
Sarabjit Singh died early Thursday in a Lahore hospital, where he was admitted after being savagely attacked in Kot Lakhpat Jail April 26 by fellow prisoners.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said: "I am deeply saddened by the passing away of Sarabjit Singh. He was a brave son of India who bore his tribulations with valiant fortitude".
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said any long-lasting relationship between the two countries (India and Pakistan) has to be between the people. "I think that is a relationship that has been hurt by this terrible tragedy."
"My heart goes out to the family. I understand their pain... their anguish. I just pray that god will give them strength to bear this loss," he said, adding: "Whatever best we can do, we will obviously do."
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said: "What happened to Sarabjit Singh was inhuman, barbaric and not the way in which a civilised state treats its prisoners".
"It was abject failure of Pakistan," Tewari said.
Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said: "It was the responsibility of Pakistan to ensure his (Sarabjit Singh's) safety in their jail and they have failed at it. We should not be blamed for it."
Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party demanded that diplomatic ties with Pakistan be scaled down and the Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan be asked to return.
"The level of diplomatic relations should be scaled down for the time being, and the Indian High Commissioner should be called back," BJP president Rajnath Singh said.
"It is a cold blooded murder," said Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj.
"It is a cold blooded murder. This is not the way civilized nations behave. #Sarabjit Singh," tweeted Sushma Swaraj.
Senior separatist leader and chairman of the Jammu and Kashmir Democratic Freedom Party Shabir Shah also condemned the brutal attack on Sarabjit Singh in a Pakistani jail which resulted in his death.
CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury said: "Whatever is the judiciary's decision, it was executed in an illegal way. Though the verdict was for the death sentence, it seems, he was lynched by a mob."