The Telegraph
 
  This website is ACAP-enabled
IN TODAY'S PAPER
WEEKLY FEATURES
CITIES AND REGIONS
ARCHIVES
Since 1st March, 1999
 
THE TELEGRAPH
 
 
CIMA Gallary

Omar atones for father

- Pak prisoner dies, CM tries to undo damage
(From left) Omar, Sanaullah and Farooq Abdullah

Srinagar, May 9: Chief minister Omar Abdullah has apologised to the family of Sanaullah Ranjay, the Pakistani prisoner who died this morning after being beaten up in what was being seen as a backlash against Sarabjit Singh’s murder across the border.

Omar’s expression of contrition stood out because his father Farooq Abdullah’s earlier comments were seen as near-justification of the assault.

“Although it’s scant consolation, I’d like to offer a sincere apology to the family of Sanaullah Haq (Ranjay) and my sympathies for their loss. While the inquiry will fix responsibility for any dereliction of duty, the fact that this happening at all is a matter of great regret,” Omar today tweeted.

The attack on Sanaullah has been widely condemned in the Valley and Omar seemed to be trying to strike a chord with the people by taking a position contrary to that of his father.

“There must be some problem but we will find it out. Anger is there… so some prisoners will be in danger,” Farooq had said, reacting hours after the attack on Sanaullah. “In Pakistan we will not know what happened, here at least you will know what was the cause, what happened, what was the ultimate reason,” he had told journalists in Delhi.

Farooq had also said Sanaullah would not die — an insensitive forecast in hindsight. “The man will be all right. Don’t worry, this man (Sanaullah) will not die. Sarabjit died, this man will not die,” the Union minister for new and renewable energy had said.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has slapped murder charges on former army jawan Vinod Kumar, a murder convict who attacked Sanaullah at Jammu’s Kot Bhalwal jail on May 3.

Sanaullah succumbed to his injuries at the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) in Chandigarh. The 52-year-old prisoner, who played the bagpipe at the prisoners’ band and was popular among the inmates, had slipped into a coma after the attack. Sanaullah was accused of bombing a bus in Jammu in which 10 people were killed — a charge that carried uncanny similarities with that levelled against Sarabjit by Pakistan.

Sanaullah’s body was handed over to officials of the Pakistan embassy this afternoon after a post-mortem. The body was flown to Pakistan by a special plane that had arrived at the Chandigarh air force base.

Pakistan asked India to conduct “a fair and impartial inquiry” into the prisoner’s death. “We will also demand from the Government of India to immediately release 47 prisoners of Pakistan who have already completed their sentences,” PTI quoted the Pakistan high commission press attache as saying.

A police officer in Jammu said former jawan Kumar, who had attacked Sanaullah, has been booked for murder. “The case (of attempt to murder lodged last week after the attack) has been converted to murder under Section 302 of the IPC,” the officer said. Kumar was convicted for murdering his colleague in Leh and was serving a life sentence.The officer said 27 articles belonging to Sanaullah had been handed over to the Centre to be sent with the body to Pakistan.

Sarabjit’s sister Dalbir Kaur said Sanaullah’s death was unfortunate.

“Whatever happened to Sanaullah should not have taken place in the first instance. I appeal to all Indian prisoners in jails, where there are Pakistani inmates, not to follow in the footsteps (and do) what they did with Sarabjit. My sympathies are with Sanaullah’s family. I can understand their pain and what they must be feeling. My heart is with them,” Dalbir said.

Dalbir added that both India and Pakistan should try to evolve a mechanism so that each other’s prisoners were treated well. “The ill-treatment of Indian prisoners in Pakistan led to the unfortunate death of Sanaullah,” Dalbir said.