Sarabjit Singh's funeral draws thousands; Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister present

Sarabjit Singh's funeral draws thousands; Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister present

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Bhikiwind, Punjab:  Sarabjit Singh's wife and two young daughters clung to the coffin that held his body and wept. His sister, Dalbir Kaur, who fought hard for years to secure his release from a Pakistani jail, kissed the coffin. Several Punjab policemen in uniform then carried away Mr Singh's body, draped in the Tricolour, for the final rites. (See pictures)
 
In a sea of funereal white, the khaki of many cops stood out as top politicians arrived. Among them a grim Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his entire cabinet and Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur. Mr Gandhi had visited Sarabjit's family in Delhi too yesterday, where he had hugged Dalbir Kaur and reportedly even wept. (Rahul reportedly breaks down in emotional meeting with Sarabjit's family)
 
There are thousands of people today in Bhikiwind, the ancestral village of Sarabjit Singh, the Indian prisoner who died in a Pakistan hospital yesterday after being brutally attacked in a Sarabjit_Singh_funeral_gun_salute_295x200.jpgLahore jail last week. He has been declared a martyr in Punjab.
 
A three-day state mourning has been announced and a 21-gun salute honoured him before the funeral pyre was lit by his sister.
 
This morning a bitter Dalbir Kaur said the Indian government had not done enough to save her brother. "The government acted too late," she said and added that "concentrated efforts should be made to bring back other Indian prisoners in Pakistan."
 
Pakistan had rejected three appeals from India in the last week that Mr Singh be treated at home.

There is much anger in India over Sarabjit's death. The government has called it "extremely inhuman and barbaric". The BJP said it was cold-blooded murder.

In a Jammu jail, a Pakistani prisoner was reportedly hit on the head with bricks by another inmate and is in a coma. Pakistan has alleged that he was attacked in retaliation to the attack on Sarabjit Singh by six other prisoners on Friday last. Mr Singh was taken to hospital with severe head injuries and he died on Thursday morning.  (Pak prisoner attacked in Jammu jail)
 
Worried about retaliatory attacks in India, the Home Ministry had last evening asked all states to increase the security for nearly 200 Pakistani prisoners who are in jail across the country.
Sarabjit Singh was given the death sentence in 1991 for bombings in Pakistan's Lahore and Faisalabad in which 14 people were killed. His family has, however, said that he was a farmer who strayed one night across the border 23 years ago, when drunk.
 
 

Story First Published: May 03, 2013 14:53 IST

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