13 Indians freed in China; Cong, BJP claim credit

13 Indians freed in China; Cong, BJP claim credit

The 22 traders, mostly from Gujarat, had been arrested by the local Anti-Smuggling Bureau of customs at Shenzhen in Guangdong province in southern China in January 2010. They had been charged with illegal transportation of diamonds from Hong Kong to Shenzhen.

The Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court on Wednesday set 12 of the incarcerated traders free and ordered their deportation to India within 15 days. One of the freed traders would have to pay a fine of RMB 1000,000. Nine traders were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from three to six years with effect from January 2010. Another trader, who was sentenced to imprisonment for a year and eleven months, would also be deported in 15 days as his prison term ended on Wednesday.

While the Gujarat Government, in a release claimed that the judgment was the result of Modi’s statesmanship and diplomatic efforts during his recent visit to China, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in New Delhi noted that it had extended all possible assistance to the incarcerated traders over the past couple of years.

“Indian consular officials had visited them on more than 10 occasions and had facilitated family visits more than five times. All assistance had been rendered to ensure their welfare,” said the official spokesperson and Joint Secretary (External Publicity) of the MEA, Vishnu Prakash.

He said the Consul General of India in Guangzhou would meet the court authorities in Shenzhen on Thursday and obtain more information regarding deportation of the 13 traders.

“All necessary assistance will continue to be rendered to the Indian detainees,” the MEA spokesperson said in a statement issued shorty after the Gujarat Government issued a press-release both in Ahmedabad and New Delhi, claiming credit for Modi.

The Gujarat government release stated that Modi had apprised the Chinese leadership of the plights of the families of these 22 traders during his visit to China last month. Keeping in view the 14 year prison sentence to an Australian national, the Indians have been given lighter sentences, the release stated.

The release quoted the chief minister saying, “During my visit to China in November, I took up the case of 22 Indian youth, who are lodged in Chinese jail, before the Chinese leadership purely on humanitarian ground. I emphasised that Indian nationals languishing in Chinese jail since last two years should be given speedy trial and they should get justice.”

The chief minister sadded that he was “thankful to the Chinese Government for expediting the trial and ensuring that judgment is delivered today.”

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