Prisoner dies in India after revenge beating
A Pakistani man who was serving a life sentence in an Indian prison died today, less than a week after he was beaten by another inmate and slipped into a coma, an official said.
Sanaullah Haq, also known as Sanaullah Ranjay, died in a hospital in northern India, said Sultan Hasan, a Pakistani diplomat.
The beating was an apparent revenge attack for the death of an Indian spy prisoner, threatening already fraught relations between the nations.
Indian Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said Haq's body would be handed over to Pakistan after formalities were completed by the external affairs ministry.
Haq, 64, was imprisoned in 1999 and was sentenced to life in prison in 2009 for being a Pakistani militant operating in Indian Kashmir. The charges against him included murder and waging war against India.
He was beaten up in the prison in Jammu, the winter capital of Indian Kashmir, on May 3, a day after the death of a convicted Indian spy who had been bludgeoned with a brick by fellow inmates at a prison in Lahore, Pakistan.
The spy's death led to furious reactions in India, with opposition parties criticising prime minister Manmohan Singh's government of going soft on its Western neighbour.
"Although it's scant consolation I'd like to offer a sincere apology to the family of Sanaullah Haq & my sympathies for their loss," Omar Abdullah, the chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir state wrote on Twitter.
The longtime rival nations have exchanged criticisms over the attacks, saying the other was not doing enough to protect prisoners.
Indian and Pakistan have fought each other in three major wars, two of them over the disputed Kashmir region, since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.
They began a peace process in 2004, but remain deeply suspicious of each other.
Despite the recent strains, India-Pakistan relations have improved after nose-diving in 2008 when gunmen killed 166 people in Mumbai in a three-day rampage that India blamed on a Pakistani militant group.
Last year, India hanged a Pakistani citizen convicted of taking part in that attack.
Haq was brought by air ambulance from Jammu to a bigger hospital in Chandigarh in the nearby state of Punjab.
A medical bulletin said "he had multiple organ failure due to severe head injury". His condition had become extremely critical as he also developed hypothermia.
There are 535 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails and 272 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails, according to India's External Affairs Ministry.
India was proposing a meeting of officials in both countries to "identify and put in place further measures to avoid such tragic incidents in the future", Syed Akbaruddin, the ministry spokesman, said last week.
- AP and Reuters