India asks Pak for consular access to arrested duo

Representative Image.

The High Commission of India in Islamabad asked Pakistan Government to grant its officials access to the Information Technology professional from Telangana and the farmer from Andhra Pradesh, who were arrested in the neighbouring country recently.

New Delhi also warned Islamabad against using Prashant Vaindam, an IT professional from Hyderabad, and Vori Lal, a farmer from Damoh in Madhya Pradesh, for propaganda against India.

Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), said in New Delhi that India had informed Pakistan in December 2018 and May 2019 about the possibility of Vaindam and Lal inadvertently crossing over to the neighbouring country.

“We had informed Pakistan Government but had never received a response. The sudden announcement of arrest (of the two Indian citizens by Pakistani law-enforcing agencies) is a matter of surprise for us,” said the MEA spokesperson. “We hope that the two Indian nationals are not used or they do not become a victim of Pakistani propaganda.”

He confirmed that New Delhi had already asked Pakistan Government to immediately allow officials of its High Commission in Islamabad to meet Vaindam and Lal in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, 1963.

Several Pakistani media outlets recently reported that Vaindam and Lal had been arrested from Yahzaman Mandi in Bahawalpur district of Pakistan on November 14 last.

New Delhi is worried about the possibility of Islamabad using Vaindam and Lal just as it used former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav to accuse India of trying to fuel unrest in Pakistan.

Jadhav, who has been in the custody of Pakistan Army at least since March 3, 2016, is on the death row as a military court in the neighbouring country awarded him capital punishment on April 10, 2017. India had moved the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Pakistan on May 10, 2017. The court had on May 18, 2017, stayed his execution pending its final judgement in the case. The ICJ had on July 17 delivered its judgement, concluding that Pakistan had violated Article 36 of the Vienna Convention by not informing India about his arrest immediately after taking him into custody.

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