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Why was Sarabjit Singh given a state funeral?
Sarabjit Singh has been cremated with full state honours, wrapped in the national flag. Politicians have paid public homage, sombre words were said about him. The prime minister called him a "brave son of India". The Punjab assembly has declared him a national martyr, announced a three-day mourning, offered government jobs and financial aid to his family. But the government has made no attempt to explain exactly what made him a martyr. It would, indeed, twist itself in knots if it tried to explain the precise nature of his sacrifice.
Of course, Sarabjit Singh was a victim in his death. He spent 22 years on death row, many of them in a terrible limbo, not knowing if he would live or die. He was attacked in prison, by fellow inmates, while in the custody of the Pakistani state, and died because of those injuries. Given the loneliness of his life and the brutality of his death in Pakistan, public emotion in India is understandable. The eager involvement of the state, though, needs clearer justification.
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