Obituary: Sarabjit Singh

There have been protests against There have been angry protests in India over Sarabjit Singh

Sarabjit Singh, who has died from his injuries after being attacked in a Pakistani prison, was convicted of spying and sentenced to death in 1991.

Pakistan says his real name was Manjit Singh and accused him of involvement in the 1990 bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad in which 14 people died.

But his family have always insisted on his innocence. They say he was a farmer who strayed into Pakistan by mistake while drunk and that he is the victim of mistaken identity.

He is thought to have been born around 1963 or 1964 and he comes from the village of Bhikhiwind in Tarn Taran district near the border with Pakistan.

Reports in the local media say Singh dropped out of school and began working on farms to support his family.

A friend remembered playing kabaddi with Singh in the village.

"He was also a very good wrestler who had no match in the region," Dilbagh Singh told a reporter.

One report said that friends had preserved a tractor and a fodder cutting machine used by Singh in his memory.

Singh, said the report, had been farming a field close to the Pakistan border on the day he crossed over to Pakistan.

"After work, Sarabjit must have consumed liquor and crossed over to Pakistan in an inebriated state," Manjinder Singh, a friend, said.

But little else is known about his life before being apprehended and much of the focus since then has been on the circumstances of his trial and sentencing.

Campaigners allege his trial was unfair and he confessed under torture. His lawyers at the time also failed to appear for the hearing.

British lawyer Jas Uppal, who launched an international campaign to secure Sarabjit Singh's release, has said she believes he was "being caught up in the political manoeuvrings of Delhi and Islamabad".

She says he "was prosecuted and convicted in English - when he speaks only Punjabi and Urdu - and there are other serious questions over the fairness of his trial, including allegations that he was tortured in custody and forced to confess".

Ms Uppal set up a website in 2009 to highlight his plight.

"While his family have been pleading with Indian and Pakistani politicians to raise awareness of his case, the fact is that officials in both countries are callously indifferent to his plight," she said before his death.

'Bangle made in jail'

Sarabjit Singh's family in India was given little access to him when he was alive - his sister Dalbir Kaur was allowed by the Lahore High Court to meet him in jail in June 2011 and that was only the second time he was allowed a visit.

After that meeting Ms Kaur told the BBC: "I met him in his tiny cell in jail. The meeting went on for 90 minutes. It was a very good meeting."

She said that Singh inquired about his wife, his two daughters, neighbours and relatives. The two also exchanged presents.

"When I tied a rakhi [a protective thread Hindu women in India tie on their brothers' wrists during the annual Raksha Bandhan festival], he wept. As a return gift, he gave me a bangle which he had made in jail," she said.

"I promised him that we will get him out soon," she said at the time.

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