Amid reports in the Pakistani media that Indian prisoner Chamel Singh had been tortured to death, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday said efforts were on to ascertain the facts and the post-mortem report was awaited.
Responding to a query on Chamel Singh's death in Lahore Central Jail in mid-January and the Indian demand for the post-mortem report, Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said: “We are in touch with the Interior Ministry, Home Department of Punjab and Punjab Government. We are trying to ascertain the facts and have asked for the report of the post-mortem which was attended by representatives of the Indian High Commission. As soon as we have the results, we will respond to these requests.”
However, Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay denied that any official of the mission was present at the post-mortem. According to him, High Commission officials were in Lahore to receive Chamel Singh's body as was formally requested by the Pakistan Foreign Ministry. “The High Commission officials did not participate in the post-mortem and they were not present during the post-mortem. We received the body after the post-mortem.''
Further, he pointed out that in any case, the High Commission does not have people qualified to participate in a post-mortem. Neither has any official from the mission been present during the post-mortem in previous cases where a prisoner had died in Pakistan.
Pakistan handed over Chamel Singh's body on March 13 after conducting the post-mortem earlier in the day. According to a report in The Express Tribune earlier this week, the initial autopsy report showed that he had been tortured to death. Earlier, an eyewitness had claimed that Chamel Singh - a resident of Pargwal district of Jammu & Kashmir - had been beaten to death by prison staff for washing clothes in the prison courtyard.
In a related development, Pakistan has suggested two dates for the members of the judicial committee to visit its prisons to check on the Indian prisoners and fishermen in Pakistan's custody. This is part of the existing bilateral mechanism, and a visit from the Indian side to Pakistan is due.