After slipping into coma on Friday night — hours after he was hit on the head with bricks in Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat Jail — Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh remained on life support through Saturday with doctors at Jinnah Hospital describing his condition as ‘critical.’

According to doctors attending on him, Singh sustained multiple injuries on his head and body. A medical board has been set up to monitor his condition round-the-clock and it is waiting for his condition to stabilise before taking a call on whether surgery can be performed. The board includes a senior neuro-surgeon and principal of the Post Graduate Medical Institute, a senior neuro-physician from King Edward Medical University and the head of the neuro department of Allama Iqbal Medical College.

The two officers of the mission who were sent to Lahore on Friday night from Islamabad to provide consular access to Singh reached the hospital at 2 a.m. They were allowed to spend some time with him. They are likely to remain in Lahore for a couple of days.

Visa granted to family

Pakistan has granted visa to Singh’s family, and his wife, two daughters and sister are expected to cross over from Wagah on Sunday morning. His lawyer Awais Sheikh was concerned about their security and complained that no one from the local administration or the federal government contacted him regarding arrangements for their stay and related issues.

In the first official remarks on the attack on Singh, the Foreign Office said Singh suffered head injuries as “a result of a scuffle between prisoners.” He was rendered unconscious and immediately evacuated to Jinnah Hospital, the Foreign Office said in a statement. “Doctors and medical staff at the hospital are working round-the-clock to revive the prisoner who remains unconscious and on ventilator support.”

Meanwhile, murder cases have been registered against two prisoners involved in the attack. One of them is also awaiting death sentence and by all accounts they hit Singh with bricks and blunt objects, while the prisoners were being taken out for their regular exercise.

“Dastardly act”

Condemning the attack, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan described it as a dastardly act. “A prisoner is wholly dependent for his safety on the keepers of the prison and, regardless of his offence, he is entitled to due protection against violence by wardens or fellow detainees. In this case, the authorities have obviously failed to do their elementary duty. They should have taken special care of him since his case is well-known and the fellow prisoners’ hostility towards him could have been anticipated. The authorities should have also realised the adverse effects on relations with India if an Indian prisoner fell a victim to any foul play, to say nothing of murderous attacks on him.”

Singh is one of three Indian prisoners facing death sentence in Pakistan; the other two being Kirpal Singh and Shabir Mohammad. Ironically, Singh was attacked just as the joint judicial committee looking into the condition of prisoners in either country was beginning its visit of Pakistani prisons. As per their schedule, the committee — comprising three retired judges from Pakistan and two from India — is due to visit Kot Lakhpat Jail on Monday afternoon.