Pakistani prisoner attacked in Indian Kashmir

AP News
Posted: May 03, 2013 8:28 AM
Pakistani prisoner attacked in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A Pakistani prisoner in India was in a coma Friday after being beaten by another inmate, officials said, a day after a convicted Indian spy died after being bludgeoned with a brick by fellow inmates at a Pakistani prison.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry called the Kashmir jail attack an "obvious retaliation" for the killing of the Indian prisoner. Indian officials said they would investigate the attack and had issued an advisory to strengthen security for Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails.

K. Rajendra, the director general of prisons in Indian-held Kashmir, said the prisoner, Sanaullah Ranjay, had slipped into a coma and would be sent by air ambulance to a bigger hospital in the city of Chandigarh in the nearby state of Punjab.

Ranjay was imprisoned in 1999 and was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for being a Pakistani militant operating in Indian Kashmir. The charges against him included murder and waging war against India.

Indian Kashmir's Home Secretary Suresh Kumar said Ranjay got into an argument with an Indian prisoner as the two smoked in the jail compound. The attacker was identified as Vinod Kumar, a court-martialed Indian soldier who is also serving a life term for murder.

Two jail officials have been suspended from their jobs, Kumar said.

Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said an investigation has been ordered into the attack.

The dead Indian prisoner, Sarabjit Singh, had been held in a prison in Lahore, Pakistan, for more than 20 years. He was arrested in 1990 after bombings killed 14 people in Lahore and Faisalabad. He was convicted of spying and carrying out the blasts and sentenced to death.

He had been comatose and on a ventilator for days after the prison attack April 26. His death led Indian officials and his family to ask why he was left vulnerable inside the prison.

Singh was cremated in his native village in north India's Punjab state on Friday with top officials from the state government and representatives from the federal government present.

Indian officials said Singh's death had hurt relations between the nuclear-armed neighbors, which have fought three major wars — including two over Kashmir — since they achieved independence from Britain in 1947. Relations have experienced ups and downs in recent years.

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On Friday, Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said his country's mission in New Delhi had contacted Indian authorities and was seeking details of the attack and consular access to Ranjay.

"This obvious retaliation to the death of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh is condemnable," Chaudhry said in a statement.

"We would also remind the government of India of its responsibility in ensuring the safety and security of all Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian jails," the statement said.

A spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, said Indian officials were ensuring that Ranjay gets the medical treatment he requires and would grant consular access to him as soon as his condition stabilizes. He said India had issued an advisory to strengthen security for Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails.

According to Akbaruddin, there are 535 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails and 272 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails. He said India was proposing a meeting of officials in both countries to "identify and put in place further measures to avoid such tragic incidents in future."