'Arrangements' in place to bring Sarabjit's mortal remains back

 The government has made "arrangements" with Pakistan to bring back the body of Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh who died in a Lahore hospital following a brutal assault in prison, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said Thursday.

"The indication is that we will have satisfactory arrangements to bring back the mortal remains in time so that they can be reached to his family and his home for the cremation to take place," Khurshid told NDTV.

"We have been in touch since the morning. We have been in touch at different levels. The high commissioner has been working overtime," he said.

The minister, however, added: "I would be really able to report back to you once the arrangements are completed."

"I think we have reasonable response. I don't want to prejudge anything right now.

We are engaged with them and we hope to be able to get the mortal remains back," Khurshid said.

Asked if the incident can be seen as a failure of Indian diplomacy, he said: "It is for people to judge."

Earlier, Khurshid told reporters, the government would share with parliament the details of Singh's death.

"Parliament is in session. I think the first information we should give should be to parliament. The prime minister has conveyed his deep anguish," Khurshid told reporters.

He said the government was "extremely distressed" over the development.
"Details of what has happened we would like to share with parliament. I can only say that it is a terrible psychological and emotional setback for all of us," he said.

The minister said any long-lasting relationship between the two countries has to be between the people. "I think that is a relationship that has been hurt by this terrible tragedy," he said.

"My heart goes out to the family. I understand their pain... their anguish. I just pray that god will give them strength to bear this loss," he said, adding: "Whatever best we can do we will obviously do."

Sarabjit Singh, who was admitted to a Lahore hospital April 26 after being savagely attacked in jail, died early Thursday. He had suffered serious head injuries and had been on ventilator support since admission to hospital.

Singh had been on death row in Pakistan since 1990 after being convicted by Pakistani courts for bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan that left 14 people dead.

Sarabjit's family maintained that he was innocent, and was arrested after he crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated state.

Police in Pakistan, however, claimed that Sarabjit Singh, known as Manjit Singh, was involved in terrorist strikes.

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