Separatists on Thursday unanimously condemned the fatal attack on Indian citizen Sarabjit Singh inside a Pakistani jail and demanded an inquiry into the security lapses on part of the jail authorities.
"We in strong words condemn the attack on Sarabjit. People in Kashmir can relate with the pain of the family and can experience what they must be going through. I express my grief and anguish over the sad episode," said hardline Hurriyat chairman Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Despite some reports emerging from Pakistan suggesting that Singh faced life threats after the execution of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru on February 9, Geelani took a hard stand on the murder and asked Pakistan to carry out a through inquiry and fix the responsibility.
"The security lapses that led to the killing of Sarabjit should be looked into. It is responsibility on Pakistan authorities to provide security to all jail inmates there," said 83-year-old Geelani, who has been demanding the return of Guru's body.
He, however, praised Pakistan's gesture to hand over the body of Sarabjit to his families. "Pakistan has achieved a moral victory over India by showing its humane face by returning the body of Sarabjit to his loved ones unlike the Indian authorities, which secretly hanged and buried Guru," said Geelani adding, "Pakistan showed the gesture despite being described a 'failed state' and India failed to do the same despite being largest democracy and a secular country".
Moderate Hurriyat leader Shabir Ahmad Shah, while condemning the attack, said, "Such an incident should not have taken place inside a jail. Pakistan should take action against the attackers so that such an incident is not repeated."
Sarabjit Singh, who was on a death row, was brutally attacked inside the jail on April 26 and succumbed to grievous injuries on Thursday.
Mainstream leader Engineer Rashid used Sarabjit's case to condemn New Delhi's approach in Guru's case. "Like Guru, Sarabjit has become a victim to the hatred between India and Pakistan, which is going on since 1947. Whether it is Guru's wife or Sarabjit's wife there was nothing more precious and more important thing on the earth than their lives," said Rashid.
The independent MLA, known for his fiery style of politics and controversies, questioned Union Home minister Sushilkumar Shinde statement where he called Sarabjit a martyr. "If in Shinde's eyes Sarabjit is a martyr then how Guru was a terrorist. Both were convicted by respective supreme courts of India and Pakistan. The only difference between the murder of Sarabjit and Afzal was that Sarabjit was beaten to death by his jail mates at the behest of someone and Afzal was hanged secretly without fulfilling the legal procedures," he said.
He said, "Kashmiris have a right to know that is it the same Indian political set-up, harsh media and ineffective civil society that had turned deaf, dumb and blind when Guru was murdered. There is no reason that in a civilized society one should mourn over a death and celebrate over the other," he said.
Guru's hanging is fast emerging as poll plank for all mainstream parties in Kashmir for upcoming assembly polls of 2014. Both ruling and opposition parties have demanded return of the body of Guru and blame each other for failing to secure clemency for him. On the other hand, separatists have formed a joint front to demand the return of Guru's mortal remains and have erected a plaque and earmarked space for a grave inside a Srinagar Martyrs' graveyard.