Skip to main content

India expresses 'anguish' over prisoner's death in Pakistan

By Jethro Mullen and Shaan Khan, CNN
updated 4:05 PM EDT, Thu May 2, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The Indian prime minister describes the dead man as "a brave son of India"
  • He died from injuries sustained in a clash in a Pakistani jail, Islamabad says
  • India calls for an investigation into "the killing of our citizen"
  • Pakistan says it will hand over the remains of Sarabjit Singh, the dead prisoner

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- India expressed "great anguish" on Thursday over the death of one of its citizens following an attack in a Pakistani jail, calling for an investigation into what happened.

"This was, put simply, the killing of our citizen while in the custody of Pakistan jail authorities," the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement about the death of Sarabjit Singh, who had been held in a jail in the northeastern city of Lahore, near the Indian border.

Pakistan's Foreign Minister Arif Nizami told CNN that Singh had been convicted for espionage in Pakistan for his involvement in terror attacks in 1991. He was on death row for that crime. Singh's family has maintained his innocence.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Sarabjit Singh as "a brave son of India who bore his tribulations with valiant fortitude."

Rising tensions in Kashmir

"The criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on him must be brought to justice," the prime minister said in a statement.

The Pakistani Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday that Sarabjit Singh died of cardiac arrest in a Lahore hospital where he had been in a coma for the past few days after being hurt in "a scuffle with fellow inmates" at the jail last week.

Islamabad said it had been "providing all assistance to the family of Sarabjit Singh as well as to the Indian authorities since the occurrence of this unfortunate incident."

It said it would hand over his body to the Indian High Commission in Pakistan as soon as possible. Indian authorities had requested the return of his remains for burial.

His death puts a fresh strain on the delicate relations between India and Pakistan, who have fought several wars since their independence from British colonial rule more than 65 years ago.

Ties between New Delhi and Islamabad have improved since tensions flared in the aftermath of the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, for which India blames the Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.

But the fragile nature of their relationship was underscored by small-scale clashes between the two sides in January in the disputed territory of Kashmir.

"The shocking attack on Shri Sarabjit Singh highlights the need for concerted action by Pakistan to safeguard Indians in Pakistani jails," the Indian Ministry of External Affairs said in its statement Thursday.

CNN's Shaan Khan reported from Islamabad, and Jethro Mullen reported and wrote from Hong Kong.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 4:01 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The U.S. has promised to supply and train "acceptable" rebels in Syria to counter ISIS. But who are they and are can the strategy work?
updated 10:57 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Do the Chinese really like to mix their Bordeaux with Coca-Cola?
updated 8:08 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Al Qaeda's new Syrian branch, Khorasan, is seeking new ways to attack America and Europe, with a top U.S. intelligence official saying it has "aspirations for attacks on the homeland."
updated 8:39 PM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Branded an "extremist" by China's state-run media, Joshua Wong isn't even old enough to drive.
updated 2:55 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi surprised political pundits with his rapid rise to power. CNN meets the man behind the enigma.
updated 7:44 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Liverpool's Italian forward Mario Balotelli reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group B match between Liverpool and Ludogorets Razgrad at the Anfield stadium in Liverpool on September 16, 2014.
British police launched an investigation into abusive tweets sent to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli.
updated 7:44 PM EDT, Sun September 21, 2014
A woman who was texting her husband before he was killed reflects on the Westgate attack.
updated 11:54 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
The real secret to a faster commute has been with us all along -- the bus.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
13 brands retained their Top 20 status from last year, according to an annual survey.
updated 11:49 AM EDT, Mon September 22, 2014
Think your new tattoo is cool? Look at how our ancestors did it and think again.
updated 6:52 AM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT