‘I want nothing from govt, only the body of my dead husband’

FP

Only last month, 40-year-old Kamlesh Devi had received a letter from her "missing" husband, saying he was in Kot Lakhpat jail in Pakistan, and would return home soon as his five-year prison term was close to ending. Earlier this week, Kamlesh came to know that she would in fact never see her husband alive again.

News reports from Pakistan on Friday quoted a lawyer as saying he had seen Kamlesh's husband Chamail Singh being "mercilessly beaten" by two wardens in jail on January 15, two days before the Indian prisoner died at Jinnah Hospital in Lahore.

However, PTI quoted unnamed Indian high commission sources as saying that the Pakistanis had informed the mission that Singh had in fact died on January 15. A note verbale on the matter did not mention the cause of death, PTI said.

Pakistani media reports quoted lawyer Tehseen Khan, who was released from Kot Lakhpat jail on January 18, as saying he had seen prison staff assaulting Singh for using water from a tap to wash clothes on January 15. Khan was quoted as saying that Singh was "mercilessly beaten" by the wardens, who also made "racial remarks against Indians and minorities".

Khan was reported to have said that other Indians in Kot Lakhpat jail, including death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh, faced a "grave threat".

In Chamail Singh's home at Bhalwal Mula village in Pargal near Akhnoor, an inconsolable Kamlesh Devi said all that she now wanted was that Pakistan should return her husband's body so she could see him one last time and perform his last rites.

"I want nothing from (the Indian) government, but the body of my late husband," Kamlesh said. No one from the police or administration had visited her so far, Kamlesh said.

PTI, quoting Indian high commission sources, said Islamabad had asked the mission to inform Singh's family of his death, and that the information had been relayed to the external affairs ministry in New Delhi. The officials told PTI that a response from New Delhi was awaited. They knew nothing about Singh having been beaten in jail, they said.

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