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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

World

Sarabjit Singh's family to meet Sushilkumar Shinde
PTI
Lahore/New Delhi, May 01, 2013
First Published: 13:16 IST(1/5/2013)
Last Updated: 22:35 IST(1/5/2013)

The family of Sarabjit Singh, who is lying in coma in a Lahore hospital after an attack in jail, will meet home minister Sushilkumar Shinde in New Delhi on Thursday to seek his better treatment and bringing him back home.

Official sources said Shinde has given time to the family, including Sarbjit's sister Dalbir, to hear their grievances.

The family, which crossed over to India after visiting 49-year-old Sarabjit, said his life can be saved if the Indian government puts pressure on Pakistan to shift him to this country or abroad for better treatment.

The family is expected to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid besides Shinde to urge them to help save Sarabjit's life by taking necessary steps.

Sarabjit Singh Wednesday slipped into a "non-reversible" coma at a hospital in Lahore even as India strongly asked Pakistan to release him immediately for best available treatment, saying this was not the time for invoking "legal and bureaucratic reasons".

The deterioration in 49-year-old Sarabjit's condition could lead to "brain death", official sources told PTI in Lahore adding he has slipped into "non-reversible" coma.

His measurements on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which indicates the levels of consciousness and damage to a person's central nervous system, had dropped to a "critical level", the sources said.

A source said Sarabjit's heart is beating "but without brain function" because of the extensive head injuries he sustained when he was assaulted by prisoners at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore on Friday.

Sarabjit is completely unresponsive and unable to breathe without ventilator support.

Meanwhile, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal today met Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and sought immediate release of Sarabjit.

"We are concerned at the condition of Sarabjit Singh indicated by reports made available by doctors treating him in Jinnah Hospital (in Lahore).

"Our High Commissioner has met the Pakistan Foreign Secretary and urged the Pakistan government to immediately release him on humanitarian and sympathetic grounds so that he can benefit from the best available treatment in India," Spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs Ministry said in New Delhi.

He also said India has alternatively also proposed that Sarabjit should be sent to a third country for proper medical treatment.

"This is not the time for invoking legal and bureaucratic reasons for not taking the right steps to save a human life. We believe that every endeavour should be made to save his life," the spokesperson said.

The development came at a time when sources said the medical board supervising Sarabjit's treatment was not in a position to declare him brain dead without consulting his family and Pakistani authorities.

The sources further said Sarabjit could not be removed from the ventilator without his family's consent and the approval of the Pakistani government.

Sarabjit's wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam and Swapandeep Kaur and sister Dalbir Kaur, who went to Lahore on Monday to see him, returned to India today.

Yesterday, doctors treating Sarabjit at the state-run Jinnah Hospital said that his condition had further deteriorated though he had not been declared brain dead.

They said his blood pressure was being maintained with support and his chances of survival were very slim.

Sarabjit sustained several injuries, including a fractured skull, when six prisoners attacked him in jail on Friday afternoon.

He was hit on the head with bricks and has been comatose in hospital since then.

He was convicted of alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990.

His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf.

The previous Pakistan People's Party-led government put off Sarabjit's execution for an indefinite period in 2008.

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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