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Sarabjit gets martyr's send-off in his village

Chandigarh, May 3, 2013,DHNS: 2:05 IST
 Sukhpreet Kaur, the wife of convicted Indian spy Sarabjit Singh, wails over the coffin of her husband at Bhikhiwind, India. Indians expressed outrage over the death Thursday of Singh who was bludgeoned with a brick by two fellow inmates at a Pakistani prison. Government officials said the incident had badly damaged relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors. (AP Photo)
Minutes before the funeral pyre was lit, Sarabjit Singh’s wailing family of four women were reluctant to leave the coffin, draped in the Tricolour.

They wept profusely for long as a sea of emotions poured at their native border village Bhikhiwind, some 50 km from Amritsar, where Sarabjit was consigned to flames with full state honours on Friday.

As a ritual, his sister Dalbir Kaur walked around the body with an earthen pitcher on her shoulder that spilt water as she unsteadily took each step forward. Daughters Poonam and Swapandeep broke down as they watched their father for the last time. When the pyre was lit, the family was even more inconsolable.

Earlier, several Punjab policemen carried Singh’s body for the final rites. Top politicians, including Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, his cabinet colleagues, Union Minister Praneet Kaur, BJP state president Kamal Sharma all stood in grief. A 21-gun salute honoured him before the funeral pyre was lit. The Punjab government has declared Sarabjit Singh a martyr. A three-day state mourning has been announced.

Thousands of people from the village and across Punjab began arriving at Sarabjit’s house since morning where prayers were held for the departed soul. Friends, relatives and sympathisers kept pouring in to share the distraught family’s grief.

Rahul Gandhi stayed with the aggrieved family for about half an hour and offered condolences and assured full support. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal said the Union government should intervene for expeditious release of all Indian prisoners who have served their jail term but are still languishing in Pakistani jails. He said he had issued directions to ensure adequate security for all the 57 Pakistani prisoners who are lodged in various jails in Punjab.


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