M A I N   N E W S

436 fishermen, 53 other Indians in Pakistan jails
India willing to free more than 100 prisoners
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 23
As many as 436 Indian fishermen and 53 other Indian prisoners are languishing in jails across Pakistan, the government has admitted in the Lok Sabha.

In a written reply to the query in this regard made by former union minister and Lok Sabha MP from Sangrur Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and M. Raja Mohan Reddy, the ministry of home affairs said yesterday the governments of Pakistan and India had recently exchanged a list of prisoners lodged in their respective countries.

The list, said the government, was exchanged on March 31 this year, as per the recommendations of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee set up pursuant to a bilateral understanding.

The Indian jails have 133 Pakistani prisoners and 14 Pakistani fishermen - a figure less than the Indians lodged in the Pakistani jails. Minister of state for home affairs Sriprakash Jaiswal stated the numbers in his the reply. He added that no specific time frame had been fixed for the repatriation of the prisoners in question.

The government, in its reply, also clarified that the Border Security Force (BSF) and the Pakistan Rangers had not exchanged any list of prisoners in jails of the two countries recently. The only list exchanged was the one between respective governments.

Though the government in the Lok Sabha said there was no time-bound plan to release Pakstani prisoners, it had on April 8 indicated to the visiting Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney that it was ready to release more than 100 Pakistani prisoners, unilaterally. The indication was made to Burney when he had a meeting with India’s foreign secretary Shivshankar Menon.

After the meeting, Burney stated that India was ready to release more than 100 Pakistanis lodged in its jails unilaterally and that he would try his best to urge the Pakistan government to reciprocate India’s gesture.

“I will talk to the Pakistan government for the release of Indian prisoners”, Burney said, quoting India’s foreign secretary on the release of Pakistani prisoners. He added that he would, when in Pakistan, look for the families of the Pakistani prisoners India was ready to release. “India has provided me a list on the basis of which I will try to determine the antecedents of the Pakistani prisoners so that the release can be facilitated,” Burney said.

Burney had earlier aided the release of Kashmir Singh. He is also engaged in the case of Sarabjit Singh, the Indian on a death row in Pakistan.



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