Centre wants NGOs to adopt foreign prisoners

SC had criticised govts failure to repatriate foreign nationals

The Centre has mooted a plan to allow NGOs or public spirited citizens to adopt those foreign nationals who have no place to go after completing their prison terms .

The move comes in the backdrop of strong displeasure expressed by the Supreme Court over the failure of the Union government to repatriate foreign nationals still rotting in Indian jails even after finishing their sentence.

The government, on the other hand, finds itself in quandary as in several cases, different
countries from where these detainees hailed from, failed to confirm their nationality.
In an affidavit, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told the Supreme Court that the nationality of as many as 28 such prisoners was still awaited.

In specific cases of Abdul Sharif and a woman detainee Shukla Ghosh, the MHA wrote to the Punjab government requesting it to “examine as to whether any NGO or Indian national would take responsibility and provide food, shelter etc so that action can be taken to release them from the detention centre.”

Sharif was apprehended 300 meters inside the Indian territory from the international border by the Border Security Force at Kahangarh on April 14, 1997.

Even 15 years after completing his sentence in July, 1997, he is still kept at a detention centre in Amritsar, because his nationality is still not confirmed.

He first claimed he was a Pakistani national and hailed from Baluchistan. During consular access with Pakistan High Commission, he, however, said that he was an Iranian.
After a number of notes from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to Iran, it was informed on November 2 that Sharif was not an Iran national. Now the MHA has asked MEA to request the Iran government to publish Sharif’s photograph in the local newspapers so that any of his relatives could identify him.

Likewise, in the case of Ghosh, detained at Amritsar, the MHA wrote to Punjab government to examine if she could be adopted by any NGO or Indian national to provide her food and shelter and to ensure her release from the detention centre.

After being arrested on July 5, 1999, she completed her sentence in October, 2000.
All along she claimed she was a Pakistani national. On being provided consular access with the Pakistan High Commission in August last, she claimed she was a Bangladeshi. In telephonic interview with the High Commission officials of Bangladesh, she again changed her stand and claimed that she belonged to Burdwan district in West Bengal.

But the security agencies could not locate the address mentioned by her. Notably, the government was paying compensation at the rate of Rs 100 per day to Ghosh as well as Sharif, besides the lump sum compensation of Rs 10,000 annually. According to MHA, the nationality of 24 foreign nationals, who have completed their sentence, was still awaited from the Pakistan High Commission. Four other foreign nationals could not be repatriated due to non-confirmation of their nationality by the Pakistan High Commission.

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