Far removed from Chandigarh, where Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Haq died early on Thursday, a family in a small village of Uttarakhand despaired over the news.
Village Siku near Pauri is where Vinod Singh Bisht, the man who attacked Sanaullah, grew up. His family – wife Manju, 33, their two daughters, Mansi, 10, Priya, 7, and father, retired army jawan Mehtab Singh, 75 – still lives in the village.
In 2006, Vinod, 39, a former sepoy of 15, Garhwal regiment, had shot dead one of his colleagues after an altercation. Court martialled in 2007, he was awarded life imprisonment and shifted to Kot Bhalwal jail, Jammu, in 2009 from district jail, Leh.
The jail authorities in Jammu were working on shifting him to his home state as, rules say, a life convict has to be lodged in a jail near his home.
But that was before May 3, when Vinod attacked fellow inmate Sanaullah with a brick. All hopes of his coming back are now dashed as he will be tried for murder afresh and could be put up for the gallows as per law.
Vinod was always forthcoming in performing jail duties and his record also doesn’t suggest that he would do such an act, said K Rajendra, DG prison, Kot Bhalwal Jail, Jammu. So what prompted him to attack Sanaullah, a fellow prisoner of years?
In the village, there were mixed reactions. Most of the people felt Vinod attacked Sanaullah on the spur of the moment and, in turn, played havoc with his own life and that of his family.
Yet others were heard saying he had avenged a similar attack on Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in a Pakistan jail. Whatever his reasons, Vinod has put his family to shame, all over again.
Though shocked, Manju, however, has more pressing worries. The family lives off the small pension of Mehtab Singh. But that is not enough.
“I used to cook food for students at a local government school but recently the education department decided to close down the school owing to a small number of students,” Manju told HT.
Another armyman from the same village, Brij Mohan Singh Bisht, told HT that Vinod’s younger daughter was suffering from epilepsy and needed regular medication. “But the family is so poor that they are even unable to go and meet Vinod,” he said.