India fumes after Sarabjit Singh dies in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI Thu May 2, 2013 10:25pm IST

1 of 5. Candles are placed in front of the posters of Sarabjit Singh, who was convicted of spying for India and sentenced to death in Pakistan, during a candle light vigil to pay tribute in Amritsar May 2, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Munish Sharma

ISLAMABAD/NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India reacted furiously to Thursday's death in a Pakistani jail of convicted spy Sarabjit Singh, who was badly beaten last week by fellow inmates, the latest incident to strain relations between the neighbours.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan have fought three wars since the partition of British-ruled India in 1947, although they began a peace process in 2004. They remain deeply suspicious of each other.

Singh was arrested in Pakistan in 1991 and sentenced to death for spying and carrying out four bomb blasts that killed 14 people. His family says he was an innocent farmer who was arrested after drunkenly wandering over the border.

Singh was hospitalized with a head injury on Friday after two fellow prisoners attacked him in jail in the eastern city of Lahore. India's government and his family had pleaded with Pakistan to let him return to India for treatment.

"The criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on him must be brought to justice," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said in a statement.

"It is particularly regrettable that the government of Pakistan did not heed the pleas of the government of India, Sarabjit's family and of civil society in India and Pakistan to take a humanitarian view of this case."

Pakistan said it provided the best treatment for Singh, who it said had been comatose and on a ventilator following injuries sustained during a "scuffle" with fellow inmates.

"A sustainable and long lasting relationship between two countries has to be between people. That relation has been hurt by what has happened today," Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters.

The latest flare-up follows an outbreak of violence in the disputed territory of Kashmir in January, where two Pakistani and two Indian soldiers were killed. It was the worst clash there since India and Pakistan agreed to a ceasefire nearly a decade ago, leading to angry reactions from both sides.

Indian opposition parties and Sarabjit Singh's family came down hard on the government for being too soft with Pakistan. Parliament was adjourned for two hours after MPs shouted anti-Pakistan slogans.

"(The) centre is unable to give a strong answer to Pakistan's inhuman acts. Beheading of our soldiers and now Sarabjit's death are 2 recent examples," Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, widely tipped as a prime ministerial candidate, wrote on Twitter.

Despite the recent strains, India and Pakistan's relations have improved after nose-diving in 2008 when gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in a three-day rampage that India blamed on a Pakistani militant group. Last year, India hanged Pakistani citizen Ajmal Kasab, who was convicted of taking part in that attack.

(Reporting by Mubasher Bukhari in ISLAMABAD and Anurag Kotoky in NEW DELHI; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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Comments (5)
dizzyingdreamer wrote:
The PM needs to demonstrate action at home against terrorists and rapists before telling other nations.

May we remember this and take a humanitarian view on the people who inadvertently croo the borders

May 01, 2013 9:26am IST  --  Report as abuse
Kumar-Pune wrote:
India needs to stop dragging issues. Change in policy towards our neighbouring counties is must. A tougher stand is need of hour. Keeping a bad thing out by quicker & firm actions is important. Overall a stronge leadrship is must for survival and progress of India in long term.

May 01, 2013 10:18am IST  --  Report as abuse
alexkalyviaris wrote:
ok so india is upset about a convict but not at the 5 year old girl that was raped and died … and the other girls that are raped in the buses daily … INDIA Is such a male dominated sociaty and that is why indians are upset over the killing of a man and done by a pakistani … it’s pretty sad because i thought India a very fast advancing country would focus more on its internal politics than play the old enemy card game in politics … i think it’s about time that younger more modern indians come forward to lead their country out of this corrupted politics …

May 02, 2013 9:18pm IST  --  Report as abuse
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