Attack on Pakistani prisoner in Indian jail fuels protests

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Two hundred protesters took to the streets in Pakistan-administered Kashmir on Saturday to demonstrate against an attack on a Pakistani prisoner in India.

The injured man -- a convicted murderer named Sanaullah Ranjay -- was assaulted early Friday in the northern city of Jammu, a day after India’s home ministry ordered stepped up security for jailed Pakistanis.

The attack came after Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, convicted in Pakistan for spying and deadly bombings, died on Thursday following a savage beating in a Lahore prison, sparking a furious response from Indian politicians.

The apparent tit-for-tat jail violence has strained relations between the neighbors.

An AFP reporter said around 200 people marched in Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered Kashmir, against the attack on Ranjay.

The crowds chanted slogans against India and called for “jihad” to force Indian troops out of Kashmir.

They burned the Indian flag and demanded Ranjay should be repatriated to Pakistan. Ranjay is being treated in a hospital in the north Indian city of Chandigarh, where he remains in a critical condition on a ventilator.

Earlier, Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, head of Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a hardline Islamic organization blamed for terrorist attacks by India, criticized India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for bestowing state honors on the dead Indian prisoner.

“We are in favor of an action against those who tortured Sarabjit Singh. But there is no justification for Indian propaganda [on this issue],” he told AFP.

Saeed said India should review its own acts and should not promote terrorism in Pakistan.

“Sarabjit Singh admitted in the courts that he is responsible for the bomb blasts and that he was formally supported by India for these blasts. He has taken lives of so many people,” he said.

“We don’t think that torture in jail is a right thing. Nobody should take the law in hands. But there is no justification for that noise in India at this moment. India should correct its own acts,” he said.

Singh was cremated with state honors on Friday in his native village in northwestern India where hundreds of angry demonstrators shouted “Down with Pakistan!” as they gathered to pay their tributes.

The prison violence and resulting protests are likely to cause further friction between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, whose ties were hit by a border flare-up earlier this year that undermined efforts to build trust.

The neighbors have fought three wars over the disputed region of Kashmir, which they control in parts but both claim in full.

Sarabjit Singh was convicted 16 years ago for espionage and for his alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Pakistan’s Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990.