Media reports had it that he was tortured to death

Amid reports in the Pakistani media that Indian prisoner Chamel Singh had been tortured to death, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here on Thursday said efforts were on to ascertain the facts and a post-mortem report was awaited.

Responding to a query on Singh’s death in the Lahore Central Jail in mid-January and India’s demand for a post-mortem report, Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said: “We are in touch with the Interior Ministry, the Home Department of Punjab and the 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. We will respond to these reports as soon as we have the information.”

‘No Indian official at autopsy’

However, Indian Deputy High Commissioner Gopal Baglay denied that any official of the mission was present at the post-mortem.

According to him, the High Commission officials were in Lahore to receive 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,” he said.

Further, he pointed out that in any case, the High Commission did not have qualified people to participate in a post-mortem. Neither was any official from the mission present during the post-mortem in a previous case where a prisoner had died in Pakistan.

Indication of torture

Pakistan handed over Singh’s body on March 13 after conducting a post-mortem. According to a report in T he Express Tribune earlier this week, the initial autopsy report showed that he was tortured to death.

Earlier, an eyewitness had claimed that Singh — a resident of Pargwal district of Jammu & Kashmir — was beaten to death by prison staff for washing clothes in the prison courtyard.

While there was a delay in conducting the post-mortem — it was done nearly two months after the death — the final report takes up to a couple of months to complete even in developed countries. India had sent several requests to the Foreign Office for the report.

In a related development, Pakistan has suggested two dates for the members of a judicial committee to visit its prisons to check on Indian prisoners and fishermen in its custody. This is part of an existing bilateral mechanism, and a visit from the Indian side is due.

  • Chamel was reportedly beaten to death by prison staff for washing clothes in the jail courtyard

  • Delay in conducting post-mortem as it was done nearly 2 months after his death raises questions