Bikhiwind (Punjab): The mortal remains of Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who died after being brutally assaulted in a Pakistani jail, were on Friday consigned to flames in his village with full state honours amid emotional scenes.
    
A contingent of Punjab Police reversed their arms and then fired shots in the air as a mark of respect to 49-year-old Sarabjit, who died yesterday in a Lahore hospital.
    
The pyre was lit by Sarabjit's sister Dalbir Kaur in the presence of his wife Sukhpreet Kaur, daughters Swapandeep and Poonam and son-in-law Sanjay. Dalbir Kaur was assisted by local SAD MLA Virsa Singh Valtoha.

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A large crowd comprising villagers and VIPs, including Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, bid a heartfelt adieu to Sarabjit, whose body was brought Thursday night 23 years after he inadvertently crossed over to Pakistan.
    
The final journey of Sarabjit commenced at around 1.15 PM with his coffin, wrapped in the tricolour, being taken to a flower-bedecked hearse van stationed adjacent to a government school ground where the body had been placed for the people to pay their last respect.
    
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Union Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur were among others present.
    
A Granthi recited prayers at the cremation ground before the pyre was lit. People climbed rooftops of nearby houses to have a last glimpse of Sarabjit.
    
Others present included Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa, Vice Chairman of National SC Commission Raj Kumar Verka, Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma and leaders representing various parties, including SAD, BJP and Congress.

Slogans like 'Pakistan Murdabad' and 'Sarabjit Amar Rahe' (Long live Sarabjit) rent the air as his body was placed in the school ground to enable people to pay their respects. The mortal remains were later taken in a procession to the nearby village cremation ground.
    
Tight security arrangements were made at the cremation site in view of the presence of a large number of VIPs and additional police contingents were brought from Tarn Taran and other adjoining districts, including Amritsar.


Govt job for Sarabjit’s daughters

Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal announced a financial grant of Rs one crore for Sarabjit's family. He also announced that both daughters of Sarabjit Singh would be given government jobs.

The body, placed in a wooden coffin and draped in the tri-colour, was brought for its final journey to his native town past midnight.

Sarabjit’s body was brought to Amritsar onboard a special Air India aircraft from Lahore on Thursday night. The Indian Air Force helicopter equipped with night-landing facility landed at the special helipad.

Before handing over the body to the family, a second post-mortem was also conducted.

Sarabjit, 49, had suffered critical head injuries when he was brutally assaulted by fellow prisoners with bricks and sharp-edged things on  April 26 in Kot Lakhpat jail. Sarabjit, a resident of Bhikhiwind town, was on death row in Pakistan since 1990 after being convicted by Pakistani courts for bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan, which left 14 people dead.

(JPN/Agencies)

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