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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

World

Pak grants consular access to Sarabjit; condition unchanged
PTI
Islamabad/New Delhi, April 28, 2013
First Published: 23:21 IST(28/4/2013)
Last Updated: 09:45 IST(29/4/2013)

Indian High Commission officials Sunday visited Sarabjit Singh, comatose in a Lahore hospital following a brutal assault, for the second time in as many days after permission was granted by Pakistani authorities following an initial denial.

"The officials visited Singh in the Lahore hospital. His condition remains unchanged," spokesperson in the ministry of external affairs said.

The Pakistan government "provided second consular access to Indian diplomats presently stationed in Lahore", said a statement issued by Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry.

The Indian officials were asked to coordinate with the foreign ministry's deputy chief of protocol, Camp Office Lahore and the medical superintendent of Jinnah Hospital for consular arrangements, Chaudhry said.

It could not immediately be ascertained whether Pakistan had granted consular access only for one visit by Indian officials to the ICU of Jinnah Hospital, where Sarabjit is being treated.

More than 45 hours after Sarabjit was admitted to Jinnah Hospital with a severe head injury, there has been "no sign" of recovery or improvement in his condition, the doctors treating him were quoted as saying by sources.

The doctors believe 49-year-old Sarabjit's chances of survival are "slim" as he sustained injuries over a widespread area of his head that led to unconsciousness.

Earlier in the day, India had sought "regular consular access" so that its officials could visit Sarabjit and keep track of his treatment round the clock.

So far, two officials of the Indian High Commission deputed to Lahore were allowed to visit Sarabjit only for a few minutes at 2 am yesterday.

Official sources in New Delhi said, that India is also seeking permission for the Indian members of the India-Pakistan judicial committee to visit Sarabjit.

The judicial committee is presently inspecting prisoners in Rawalpindi.

Foreign Office spokesman Chaudhry said Pakistan was "committed to provide all assistance necessary to the family of Sarabjit and will continue to cooperate with the Indian authorities in this regard".

He said the Indian national's family members had visited Jinnah Hospital and met "doctors and saw Sarabjit".

"The hospital offered a room for the family members to stay, in case they wanted to be close to the patient. However, they chose to stay in a hotel. Family members will be able to visit Sarabjit whenever they want and full cooperation is being given to them by the Punjab Government and the hospital staff," Chaudhry said.

Earlier, an official of the Indian High Commission told PTI: "The matter has been taken up with the Pakistani side and the Foreign Office has been requested to give us regular consular access to Sarabjit Singh".

Sarabjit, was admitted to Jinnah Hospital on Friday after he was attacked by at least six other prisoners within his barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Sources said he was hit on the head with bricks and his face and torso cut with weapons fashioned from spoons and pieces of ghee tins.

The Indian national was convicted by a Pakistani court for alleged involvement in a string of bombing in Punjab that killed 14 people in 1990.

Sarabjit's family says he is the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.


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