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Sarabjit Singh in deep coma, no surgery till condition stabilizes

Family to travel to Lahore on Sunday; Indian high commission officials get consular access to Singh in ICU
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First Published: Sat, Apr 27 2013. 11 08 AM IST
Pakistani police officers stand guard at an emergency ward where Indian national Sarabjit Singh is admitted at Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan on Friday. Photo: AP
Pakistani police officers stand guard at an emergency ward where Indian national Sarabjit Singh is admitted at Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, Pakistan on Friday. Photo: AP
Updated: Sat, Apr 27 2013. 10 36 PM IST
Islamabad/Lahore: Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh is in “deep coma” and has been put on ventilator support with doctors saying they won’t be able to perform surgery on him till his condition stabilizes.
Sarabjit, 49, is in the Intensive Care Unit of the state-run Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, where he was admitted on Friday after being brutally beaten with blades and pieces of a ghee tin by at least six other prisoners within his barrack at the Kot Lakhpat Jail.
“His condition is critical as he has sustained severe injuries on his head, jaws, abdomen and other parts. He has been put on ventilator support,” a senior doctor at the hospital said.
Sarabjit’s wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Poonam, Swapandeep Kaur and his sister Dalbir Kaur will be travelling to Lahore on Sunday after the Pakistan high commission granted them 15 days gratis visa.
Sarabjit was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990.
His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and by former President Pervez Musharraf.
The outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party-led government put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period in 2008.
Official sources told PTI that Sarabjit was in a “deep coma” and doctors were unable to perform surgery on him on Friday because of extensive internal bleeding caused by a severe head injuries.
“No surgery can be performed till his condition stabilizes,” a source said.
The sources quoted doctors at Jinnah Hospital as saying that Sarabjit’s condition was measured as 5 on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), which indicates the level of damage or injury to a person’s central nervous system.
The GCS comprises tests of eye, verbal and motor responses. The three separate values and their sum are considered in deciding a person’s status.
The lowest possible GCS score is 3 while the highest is 15. Pakistani TV news channels quoted their sources as saying that next 24 hours will be crucial for Sarabjit.
Two Indian High Commission officials got consular access to Sarabjit Singh in the ICU of Jinnah Hospital Saturday morning.
“The officials of India’s high commission in Islamabad obtained access to Sarabjit in the ICU of Jinnah hospital, Lahore at 2 am,” external affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.
“Doctors attending to Sarabjit Singh informed the Indian officials that he is in coma on ventilator and receiving IV drip,” he said.
The Indian mission had contacted Pakistan’s foreign office last night to seek consular access.
The two Indian officials went to the hospital and spent some time with Sarabjit. They then drove away from the hospital without speaking to the media.
Security has been beefed up at the hospital, where dozens of police commandos have been deployed.
Indian high commission officials were in regular contact with the Medical Board attending to Sarabjit.
Even as Sarabjit was in coma, doctors carried out X-rays, MRI, CT scans on him. Doctors have been carrying out trauma control and await stabilization in condition before conducting further tests, Akbaruddin said.
Some news channels reported that a team of Indian doctors might visit Lahore to assist in Sarabjit’s treatment though this could not be independently confirmed. Earlier, people familiar with the matter told PTI that Sarabjit was attacked by at least six other prisoners within his barrack in one of the most secure sections of Kot Lakhpat Jail.
He was hit on the head with bricks and his face, neck, and torso were cut with blade and pieces of a ghee tin.
Sarabjit was initially taken to the hospital within the prison. When his condition worsened, he was moved in an ambulance to Jinnah Hospital.
However, a murder case has been registered against two prisoners—Amer Aftab and Mudassar.
A person familiar with the matter said Aftab, who was on death row after being convicted of murder, had quarrelled with Sarabjit and attempted to attack him some days ago.
Sarabjit was convicted for alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990.
His mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf.
The outgoing Pakistan Peoples Party-led government put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period in 2008.
Sarabjit’s family says he is the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.
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First Published: Sat, Apr 27 2013. 11 08 AM IST
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