India Asks Pakistan to Free Nearly 300 Indian Prisoners, Demands Consular Access
11:59 GMT 01.07.2021 (Updated: 18:01 GMT 08.12.2022)
© Photo : PixabayPrison
© Photo : Pixabay
According to the 2008 India-Pakistan Consular Access Agreement, the two neighbours must share lists of prisoners lodged in each other’s jails twice a year (1 January and 1 July). The practice has continued despite the tensions which sprang up between the two nations after New Delhi decided to withdraw Kashmir's semi-autonomous status in 2019.
Pakistan has been asked to arrange the “early release” and repatriation of 296 Indian prisoners being held in Pakistani jails, India's External Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
According to Delhi, the 296 who must be released as a matter of priority include one “civilian” and 295 fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed to be Indian.
“Pakistan has also been asked to provide immediate consular access to a further 194 fishermen and 17 civilian prisoners who are in custody in Pakistan and are believed to be Indian,” the official statement read.
Indian authorities have also demanded visas for a team of medical experts to assess the mental condition of “prisoners who are believed to be Indian and of unsound mind”, lodged throughout Pakistan.
“It was also proposed that the Joint Judicial Committee should organise an early visit to Pakistan,” the Indian statement added.
In 2015, Pakistani authorities asked India to take back 17 prisoners who had completed their jail term, but couldn't remember their Indian address because, according to Pakistan, they were mentally unstable.
However, their credentials couldn’t be established even after the Indian foreign ministry asked the federal home ministry to trace their relations. Last month, media reports said that the case was still pending because of the lack of details about these people.
Overall, Pakistan has claimed that it has 51 whom it believes to be Indian civilians, and 558 fishermen, held in its jails.
In return, officials in India have handed over a list of 271 Pakistani civilians and 74 fishermen held in Delhi.