Pakistan rejects Indian clarification on Mehmood's death

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Islamabad, Mar 14 (UNI) Pakistan has rejected New Delhi's clarification regarding death of Pakistani national Khalid Mehmood in Indian custody and asked India to provide a full report on the circumstances of his death and share the investigation.

Foreign Office spokesperson Muhammad Sadiq, while commenting on a statement by the Indian High Commission that Mehmood was not tortured, said, ''We have seen the clarification issued through the media by the Indian High Commission but the explanation does not fully explain the circumstances for Mehmood's death.'' The spokesperson said, ''We once again ask the Indian authorities to provide full report into the circumstances of Mehmood's death and share the investigation conducted in this regard instead of shifting the blame for the wrong done.'' Earlier, the Indian High Commission had denied Pakistani media reports that Mehmood was tortured while in prison.

''The High Commission of India is concerned at the disinformation being spread in various media reports following the repatriation of Mehmood's body, an under-trial prisoner in India who died of illness on 12 February, 2008,'' the High Commission statement said.

''The High Commission of India condoles Mehmood's death and shares his family's grief. However, politicising the case and suppressing the facts serves no purpose other than to heighten the anguish of the bereaved family,'' it added.

Mehmood went to India on a four-day cricket visa in April 2005.

He then disappeared in the country and was apprehended by the Faridabad Police on May 17, 2006, more than a year after his visa had expired.

Sensitive documents were recovered from Mehmood's possession, which he was carrying to Delhi to deliver to some people who were traveling to Pakistan by the Samjhauta Express.

As per the standard practice, an FIR was filed and a case registered against Mehmood under various sections of the law, including the Foreigners Act, the Passport Act, the Official Secrets Act and the Indian Penal Code, the statement said.

He was produced before a Court in Faridabad and has been an under-trial prisoner in a jail in Gurgaon since May 25, 2006.

Various procedures concerning Indian and Pakistani prisoners arrested in the other country, including notification of arrest and provision of consular access, have been a matter of discussion between the two nations for some time, with the objective of improving the system and developing appropriate norms.

It is with this aim in mind that new agreements have been negotiated and a Judicial Committee has recently been set up.

Pakistan's private News network Internationa (NNI) news agency quoted the statement as saying while in prison, Mehmood was provided medical treatment as per his symptoms from time to time.

He was also referred to General Hospital, Gurgaon for specialist opinion and treatment last December when he developed abdominal distension on February 1, 2008.

Later, on February 11, 2008, he was referred to Safdarjung Hospital in New Delhi and then transferred to the AIIMS, India's premier medical institute, for further treatment. Unfortunately, he did not respond to the treatment and succumbed to his ailment on February 12, 2008.

The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi was immediately informed of Mehmood's death and requested to intimate his next of kin to collect the body.

The Pakistan High Commission acknowledged this on February 13, 2008, but only conveyed to the Indian Government on March 5, 2008, i e 22 days later, that the relatives had been contacted and they had desired that the body be transported to Pakistan for burial as per Islamic rites.

''It is emphasised that no torture was inflicted upon Mehmood while he was an under-trial prisoner. Necessary post-mortem reports were also handed over to his relatives along with the body,'' the statement added.

UNI XC SYU SSC1050

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