Sarabjit Singh in deep coma; Pak grants visa to 4 family members

Sarabjit SinghThe Pakistan High Commission has issued visas to four members of Sarabjit Singh's family to meet the Indian prisoner who is in "deep coma" and on ventilator support in a Lahore hospital after being assaulted by jail inmates.

Singh, currently on death row in a Lahore jail, suffered head injury after four to six fellow prisoners attacked him with bricks and iron rods.

According to sources at the Jinnah Hospital where he was admitted, Sarabjit's condition was critical and doctors were expected to perform a surgery as soon as he was fit and out of ventilator support.

Pakistan's foreign office, meanwhile, confirmed that Sarabjit Singh (49) sustained head injuries in a "scuffle" with other prisoners in a Lahore jail and was admitted to the Jinnah Hospital in Lahore in an unconscious state.

It said he was "immediately evacuated" to hospital and provided emergency medical assistance.

The official statement from the Pakistan government also said Sarabjit is on a ventilator and that doctors at the hospital are trying to revive him.

"As a result of a scuffle between prisoners at the Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, yesterday, Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh suffered head injuries which rendered him unconscious. Doctors and medical staff at the hospital are working round-the-clock to revive the prisoner, who remains unconscious and on a ventilator," said the statement issued by the foreign office spokesman.

"On hearing of the incident and in view of its humanitarian nature, the Government of Pakistan provided timely consular access and permitted two officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to travel to Lahore and visit the prisoner late last night," the Pakistani statement added.

The statement further said that the home department of Punjab and authorities of Kot Lakhpat Jail were investigating the matter.

DIG Malik Mubashar said an investigation officer appointed by the home minister would probe the matter and submit a report soon.

Senior officials in Kot Lakhpat Jail have also suspended the barrack in-charge and two jail wardens for negligence. They also said more departmental actions would be taken against them after thorough investigations.

The accused prisoners, identified as Mudassar, Amir and two unidentified accomplices, injured Sarabjit by hitting his head with a brick and an iron rod inside the jail over unknown reasons.

Sources said that Pak authorities have deployed  police and rangers inside and around Jinnah Hospital to avoid any untoward incident.

Jail sources pointed out that Sarabjit was being kept in a separate barrack from the accused while the incident took place in the open during lunchtime.

Sources at the jail also said that the prisoners who attacked their fellow inmate were identified and sent to separate barracks for interrogation.

Sarabjit is held in death row in the Lahore jail on charges of conducting four bomb blasts in Faisalabad, Multan and Lahore that killed 14 people in 1990. His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former president Pervez Musharraf.