January 25, 2013

Indian prisoner found dead in Pakistan jail

January 25, 2013 19:38 IST

Islamabad: An Indian national, who was about to complete a five-year prison term for alleged involvement in espionage, has died in Lahore, with reports saying that he was "mercilessly beaten" by Pakistani prison staff before his death.

Media reports quoted a Pakistani lawyer named Tehseen Khan, who was recently released from Kot Lakhpat jail, as saying that he had seen prison staff assaulting Chamel Singh for using water from a tap to wash clothes on January 15 and that he died two days later at Jinnah Hospital in Lahore.

However, officials of the Indian High Commission told PTI they had been formally informed by Pakistani authorities that Singh had died in Lahore on January 15.

A note verbale on the matter did not mention the cause of Singh's death.

Khan further alleged that Singh was "mercilessly beaten" by jail staff, who made 'racial remarks against Indians and minorities".

He claimed other Indians in Kot Lakhpat jail, including death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, faced a "grave threat".

The Pakistani authorities had asked the Indian side to inform Singh's family of his death, Indian officials said.

The information was conveyed to the External Affairs Ministry in Delhi and authorities were awaiting a response from Singh's family on whether his body should be sent back to India or the last rites should be performed in Pakistan.

The Indian officials said they had no information on Singh being allegedly beaten up in the jail.

Singh's body is currently in the mortuary of a state-run hospital in Lahore.

Singh, a resident of Pragwal in Jammu and Kashmir, was arrested and convicted for espionage in Pakistan in 2008.

His family contended he was not involved in spying and had gone missing from his fields on the border with Pakistan in July 2008.

Indian officials said the age given for Singh in media reports was wrong but other particulars were accurate.

Singh was about to complete a five-year prison term. Khan, who was released on January 18, told the media he was jailed after being framed in a case.

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