LAHORE / SIALKOT: Indian authorities on Saturday handed over to Pakistani officials the body of Shakirullah, a Pakistani prisoner who was brutally murdered in an Indian jail on Feb 20.
Shakirullah was stoned to death by infuriated prisoners in the Jaipur central jail reportedly in reaction to the Feb 14 suicide attack in Pulwama town of India-held Kashmir in which over 40 Indian security personnel were killed.
The Pakistani officials received the body at the Wagah border where relatives of the victim were also present.
Shakirullah, 50, was arrested by the India’s Border Security Forces in 2003 when he mistakenly entered Indian territory by crossing the zigzagged Sialkot Working Boundary. He was serving his 20-year sentence when he was killed in the Indian jail. He was arrested and convicted under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2011.
New Delhi asked to explain why Pakistani national was not protected in prison
The body of Shakirullah was later brought to his native village Jessarwala-Daska in Sialkot district. A large number of local people gathered when the coffin wrapped in the Pakistani flag was bought to the area in an ambulance.
According to the victim’s family, Shakirullah’s funeral would be held in the village on Sunday.
Footage of the two consecutive events — first in which Pakistan is handing over captured Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to his country’s authorities on Friday and the second in which Indian officials are handing over the body of the murdered Pakistani national the very next day — went viral on social media, drawing widespread criticism of the Indian government’s poor gesture.
The Ansar Burney Trust and Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi played an important role in making the repatriation of Shakirullah’s body possible.
In Islamabad, the Foreign Office said that India needed to explain why it failed to protect a Pakistani prisoner in its jail.
FO Spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal, while announcing the repatriation of the body of the Pakistani prisoner, said that the Indian government did not conduct post-mortem of the deceased to determine the cause of death and a judicial inquiry into the incident.
“Failure to protect basic human right to life of Pakistani in its prison raises questions India must answer,” Dr Faisal said.
The spokesman said the victim was stoned to death. There has been lot of speculation about the incident in which he was murdered.
Indian media reports had claimed that Shakirullah was murdered after a brawl in jail over TV volume at around 1.30pm. The prisoners were watching TV when the fight reportedly broke out. The media reports said that one of the prisoners hit his head with a large brick, killing him on the spot. Four inmates were reportedly involved in the murder. Jail guards did not intervene on the occasion, according to one report.
The Pakistan’s High Commission in Delhi had sought details about the incident, but the details were not provided by Indian authorities.
After the incident, the Foreign Office had demanded that the Indian government ensure security of other Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails.
“We call upon the Indian government to fulfil its obligations and ensure provision of foolproof security to all Pakistani inmates / prisoners in Indian Jails and Pakistani visitors to India,” the FO said in a statement.
There are around 347 Pakistanis in Indian jails — 249 civilians and 98 fishermen — and 537 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails, according to lists of prisoners shared by India and Pakistan on Jan 1 under their bilateral Consular Access Agreement of 2008.
Baqir Sajjad Syed in Islamabad also contributed to this story.
Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2019