Pakistan: Prison 'failed in their duty to protect' Indian prisoner beaten to death with bricks

Second Indian national to die in a Pakistani jail this year


The Pakistani authorities must protect Indian prisoners from violence in the country's jails, Amnesty International said today after an Indian death row inmate died following an attack in a Lahore jail.

Sarabjit Singh was reportedly beaten with bricks and iron bars by other inmates while walking in the grounds of Kot Lakhpat prison on Friday. He had been in a coma in a Lahore hospital since the attack, but died yesterday from his injuries.

Singh's lawyer said the jail authorities had been warned that he had recently received death threats.

Singh was sentenced to death in 1991 for involvement in bombings that killed 14 people, although his family maintain he is innocent. He is the second Indian national to die in a Pakistani jail this year.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director Polly Truscott said:

"Pakistani prison authorities have seemingly failed in their duty to protect Sarabjit Singh, despite him apparently receiving death threats.

 

"The government must now carry out an impartial, public investigation into this horrific attack and ensure that those responsible are promptly prosecuted in fair trials – including prison staff if the evidence shows their negligence may have helped facilitate the attack."

Political tensions between India and Pakistan put prisoners in both countries' jails at risk of attack by other inmates, or prison wardens.

Sarabjit Singh's lawyer said he had been receiving death threats from inmates since India executed Kashmiri Afzal Guru in February  for his involvement in the 2001 attack on the Indian parliament.

Sources say Sarabjit Singh was held with other Pakistani death row inmates, instead of separately in a high-level security ward.

So far, two inmates have been charged with murder over the attack and jail staff, including the Head Warden, have been suspended for negligence.

Sarabjit Singh was arrested in Pakistan in 1990 on charges of spying for the Indian government. He was convicted over four bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people in 1990.

Singh’s family say he is a farmer who accidentally strayed into Pakistani territory while working.

Another Indian prisoner convicted of spying, Chamel Singh, also died in Kot Lakhpat jail in January.

A fellow inmate said he witnessed Chamel Singh being beaten to death by prison staff. An autopsy found his body bore signs of torture. Jail authorities claimed he had died from natural causes after suffering a stroke, but there has been no comprehensive inquiry into the death.

Hundreds of Indian and Pakistani prisoners have been transferred between the two countries under an agreement reached by the two governments in September 2012.

However, hundreds of others still languish in jail, including traders, farmers, fishermen and soldiers detained as “prisoners of war”. They are often detained on charges of spying and later sentenced to prison or even death.

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