LAHORE  - The inmates who attacked Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh in the Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday confessed to the police that they had planned the attack and acted alone to become national heroes.

A senior police officer told TheNation on Saturday that an investigation team, headed by the CIA Lahore SP, interrogated the assailants in the Kot Lakhpat jail.

According to sources, the investigators could not get any lead linking the attackers with any group outside the jail.

One of the attackers told the investigators that they had planned Sarabjit’s killing at their own to stop his possible departure to India, saying that Singh was a terrorist and responsible for bomb blasts in Pakistan.

Investigators say that both the prisoners were on death row and known as street-gang operators in Lahore’s Islampura neighbourhood and hardened criminals.

One of the investigators opined: “It looks like they attempted another murder to delay the death sentences awarded to them by a local court for murdering a public representative.”

The investigators on Saturday visited the crime scene, collected evidences and recorded the statements of the witnesses. They also obtained the MLC report of the accused from the hospital administration to make it a part of the case.

Doctors are trying hard to save the life of the injured Indian inmate.

When the police team contacted the doctors to record the statement of Sarabjit, the doctors gave a written reply to the police that he was unable to speak and in coma.

The “progress report” of the Punjab Police says that Manjeet Singh alias Sarabjit Singh is “fighting for life” after being assaulted by two fellow inmates in the jail during evening walk on Friday.

One of the investigators said that the Model Town SP was directed to complete the interrogation as early as possible. The police are also directed to submit to the court at the earliest.

An intelligence official discarded any conspiracy theory behind the attack but said that the attack damaged Pakistan’s image internationally. “Sarabjit’s case has become stronger after the attack because the terrorist turned out to be a victim,” the official said. “Despite India's inflexible stance on various diplomatic affairs, Pakistan always showed goodwill gestures. The instant issuance of visas to the family of Sarabjit is a case in point.”

Earlier, two officials from the Indian High Commission visited the Jinnah Hospital on Friday midnight to observe the condition of their countryman. First-Secretary CS Daas refused to talk to the press on his return from the hospital amid tight police security. “Sarabjit’s condition is very serious and he has been put on the ventilator, hospital sources said, adding, the next 24 hours are critical. He was hit with bricks and other blunt objects.

Singh was arrested following a bombing in Lahore in 1990 in which 14 people were killed.

He was sentenced to death after being convicted by a court but his family had previously filed mercy petitions to Pakistani authorities seeking his release, maintaining that Singh, 49, is a victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border.

Staff Reporter adds: A senior officer at Kot Lakhpat Jail has said that condition of Sarabjit Singh is stable though he is still in ICU at Jinnah Hospital.

Talking to The Nation, the jail official Mohsin Rafique said on Saturday that Sarabjit made the doctors realizsed with his body movements that he was getting well. Mohsin, however, said in doctors’ view next 12 o 14 hours were critical in his life. As per doctors’ opinion, he maintained, it would take some time for his complete recovery.

AFP adds: "Singh's condition is critical with multiple wounds on his head, abdomen, jaws and other body parts, and he has been put on ventilator," a senior doctor in Lahore's Jinnah hospital told AFP on condition of anonymity. "He needs surgery but the doctors are not performing it because they don't want to take any chances and want him to stabilise," he said.

Singh's lawyer Owais Sheikh told AFP his client had received threats following the execution of Held Kashmir’s Muhammed Afzal Guru in New Delhi on February 9.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) condemned the attack on Singh as a ‘dastardly act’ and called on the government to make a thorough inquiry into the matter and punish the guilty persons.

"The authorities have obviously failed to do their elementary duty" of providing him safety and security, the commission said in a statement.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described it as a ‘very sad incident’.

Sarabjit Singh's sister, Dalbir Kaur, said Indian government officials had told her that Pakistan has granted visas for four family members to travel to Lahore and is also allowing one person to stay with him in the hospital.