India nudges Pak for early release of its 386 citizens

India nudges Pak for early release of its 386 citizens

The government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats

India on Tuesday asked for the early release of 386 of its citizens from the jails of Pakistan, as the two neighbours shared the lists of each other's nationals incarcerated in their prisons on the first day of the new year.

New Delhi and Islamabad on Tuesday also exchanged the lists of civilian nuclear installations and facilities in India and Pakistan, respectively, in accordance with Article-II of the bilateral Agreement on Prohibition of Attacks against Nuclear Installations and Facilities, which was inked on December 31, 1988.

The lists of prisoners of India and Pakistan lodged in each other's jails as well as the lists of the civil nuclear installations in each other's territories were exchanged through diplomatic channels both in New Delhi and Islamabad simultaneously.

New Delhi handed over to Islamabad the lists of 98 fishermen and 249 other civilian prisoners, who are citizens of Pakistan, but lodged in the jails in India.

Islamabad, on the other hand, shared with New Delhi the lists of 483 fishermen and 54 other civilian prisoners, who are either citizens of India or believed to be citizens of India, but incarcerated in Pakistan, Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said.

The lists were exchanged in accordance with Consular Access Agreement, which India and Pakistan had signed on May 21, 2008 and which required the two governments to exchange lists of prisoners in each other's custody twice a year — January 1 and July 1.

“The government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners (from Pakistan) as well as the missing Indian defence personnel and the fishermen along with their boats,” Kumar said in New Delhi.

New Delhi specifically asked Islamabad to expedite the release and repatriation of 369 fishermen and 17 other civilian prisoners, who had been held in the jails in Pakistan and had already been confirmed as citizens of India.

“Immediate consular access has also been sought for the remaining prisoners and fishermen to facilitate their early release and repatriation,” the MEA said in its statement on Tuesday.

New Delhi asked Islamabad to expeditiously move on the case of 80 prisoners, who completed serving sentences in the prisons of India and were not being able to return to Pakistan as the government of the neighbouring country had not yet confirmed their nationality.

“To take forward the understanding reached to address the humanitarian issues, especially with respect to elderly, women and mentally unsound prisoners, India has already shared the details of the reconstituted Joint Judicial Committee and that of the Indian medical experts team to visit Pakistan to meet the mentally unsound prisoners and asked to expedite their visit,” said the MEA spokesperson.

New Delhi asked Islamabad to move fast on clearing the visit of a group of representatives of fishermen from India to Pakistan to facilitate immediate repatriation of Indian fishing boats in the custody of Pakistan.