The body of Indian prisoner Kirpal Singh of Gurdaspur, who died under mysterious circumstances in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail on April 11, was handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF) officials at the Attari-Wagah border check-post on Tuesday in the presence of tearful family members.
The body was taken to Government Medical College, Amritsar, for post-mortem at 3.30pm. Even as the Pakistani authorities have been claiming that Kirpal died of a heart attack, his family said he was murdered in the jail and had sought a probe. Though the post-mortem had been conducted at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital, the Indian authorities wanted to conduct the autopsy again to find out the reasons for his death and have constituted a three-member panel of doctors to conduct the post-mortem at Amritsar.
Kirpal’s sister Jagir Kaur said the family would perform his last rites in Gurdaspur’s Mustafabad village once his body was handed over to them. Dalbir Kaur, sister of another Indian Sarabjit Singh, who too had died in a Pakistani jail in May 2013, was also present.
Kirpal was languishing in a Pakistani jail for over 24 years on spying charges. He had allegedly crossed over to Pakistan through the Wagah border in 1992 and was arrested. He was subsequently sentenced to death in a serial bomb blasts case at Faisalabad in Pakistan’s Punjab province. First sentenced to death, his punishment was reduced to 20 years in prison. He was in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat prison since February 29, 1992, and his family had for all these years been asking Pakistan to set him free.
Family terms it murder
Claiming that there were injury marks on the body, Kirpal’s nephew Ashwani Kumar said: “There are injury marks on the face and blood clots in the nose. We are certain that he was murdered by fellow prisoners in the jail. He was also a witness to another Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh’s murder in the jail and the Pakistan authorities feared that after Kirpal’s release, they will be exposed. We want a thorough probe into his death.”
Unable to hold back his tears, Kirpal’s brother Roop Lal said: “We always hoped that Kirpal would be released one day. But his death came as a shock to us. It’s a clear case of murder.” he added.
Amritsar deputy commissioner Varun Roojam, cabinet minister Gulzar Singh Ranike and officials were present at the joint check post to receive the body.
“The body will be handed over to the family after post-mortem,” said the DC.
Kirpal’s family members and Shiv Sena activists raised slogans against Pakistan when the body reached India.
Along with the coffin, the Pakistan jail authorities also sent Kirpal’s luggage which included bed sheet, family photographs, magazines and a few letters. His nephew Ashwani and brother Roop Lal got emotional looking at his belongings.