A convicted Indian spy on death row in Pakistan was unconscious and on a ventilator in a Lahore hospital after sustaining head injuries in a jail attack by fellow prisoners.
Pakistani doctors were working to revive Sarabjit Singh, according to a statement issued by the country’s foreign ministry in Islamabad today. In India, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called the attack “very sad,” Press Trust of India reported, adding that Indian officials had been granted access to the injured man.
Sarabjit Singh was arrested in 1990 and later found guilty of spying and involvement in deadly bomb blasts in Pakistani cities. His family have said the man hails from a border village in the northern Indian state of Punjab and had crossed the frontier by mistake.
The incident may spark fresh tension between Pakistan and India, nuclear-armed neighbors which in January and February engaged in some of their most serious cross-border skirmishes in almost a decade in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. The fighting strained efforts to repair ties shattered by the Mumbai terrorist strike in 2008.
India last year executed the only one of 10 Pakistan gunmen to be captured alive during the Mumbai attack. It has since executed a Kashmiri man found guilty of playing a role in a 2001 raid on India’s parliament.
“He was attacked by two prisoners with steel bars and bricks in jail,” Sarabjit Singh’s lawyer, Awais Sheikh, said by phone from Lahore. “Jail authorities are responsible. It’s criminal negligence.”
India and Pakistan resumed peace talks in 2011 more than two years after they were broken off following the attack by Pakistani militants on Mumbai that killed 166 people.
Pakistan’s government provided consular access to officials of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to visit Singh in the hospital, according to the statement. It also instructed its high commission in New Delhi to facilitate visas to Singh’s family members. Visas have been issued to Singh’s wife, two daughters and a sister, according to the private Pakistani television channel Geo.
“Singh is in a very critical condition,” lawyer Sheikh said.