New Delhi asks for early release of Indians in Pak jail

New Delhi asks for early release of Indians in Pak jail

Islamabad is set to send back Ansari

Hamid Nehal Ansari

India has once again called for early release and repatriation of its citizens languishing in Pakistan jails, even as one of them, Hamid Nehal Ansari, is set to return home on Tuesday.

“We would like Pakistan to take action to also end the misery of other Indian nationals and fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed and who have completed their sentences but continue to languish in Pakistan jails,” Raveesh Kumar, spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi.

He made the statement after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Pakistan government announced in Islamabad that Ansari, a 33-year-old resident of Mumbai, would be released from prison in the neighbouring country.

“Hamid Nehal Ansari, an Indian spy who had illegally entered Pakistan and was involved in anti-state crimes and forging documents, is being released upon completion of his sentence and is being repatriated to India,” Mohammad Faisal, spokesperson of the MoFA of Pakistan government, posted on Twitter.

Ansari was arrested in Pakistan in 2012 and he was charged for illegally entering into that country from Afghanistan. He purportedly entered the neighbouring country to meet a woman he had got acquainted with on social media. He was attacked by inmates of the Peshawar Central Prison in Pakistan and was injured at least thrice.

New Delhi has been mounting pressure on Islamabad for Ansari's release and his repatriation from Pakistan to India. India had issued 96 note verbales to Pakistan seeking consular access to Ansari and clarity on the charges against him.

Pakistan, however, had not provided India with a satisfactory response. Ahead of the end of his court-mandated prison sentence, India had upped the ante at multiple levels in the preceding weeks, seeking to ensure his release and quick repatriation to India, said sources.

Pakistan on Monday sent a diplomatic note to India informing that Ansari would be released and repatriated on Tuesday.

“It is a matter of great relief, especially for the family members, that six years of incarceration of the Indian civilian in Pakistan jail is coming to an end,” the MEA spokesperson said in New Delhi. “We hope that Pakistan would respond and organize an early visit of the Joint Judicial Committee so that the issues of prisoners can be dealt with in a humanitarian and timely manner.”

Islamabad on July 1 this year shared with New Delhi lists of “53 Indian and believed-to-be-Indian civilian prisoners and 418 fishermen” incarcerated in Pakistan.

New Delhi on the same day provided Islamabad lists of “249 Pakistani and believed-to-be-Pakistani civil prisoners and 108 fishermen” held in Indian jails.

“We also await Pakistan's response to the visit of Indian medical team to meet mentally unsound prisoners with a view to facilitating their nativity verification and subsequent repatriation,” said the MEA spokesperson.