As many as 1,487 Indian prisoners are lodged in various jails of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the External Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday. Responding to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said 83 missing Indian defence personnel, including prisoners of war, are believed to be in Pakistan's custody."The government has consistently taken up the matter with Pakistan.
However, so far, Pakistan has not acknowledged the presence of these missing Indian defence personnel in its custody," he said in a written reply. According to the data given by Muraleedharan, as of January 31, 1,487 Indians were lodged in various jails of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In Pakistan, 337 Indian prisoners (Indian and believed-to-be Indian prisoners, including fishermen) are lodged, the data showed.
In Bangladesh, 157 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, are lodged, while in Nepal, 886 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, are lodged, it said.
In Sri Lanka, 107 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, are lodged.
"The concerned governments in these countries inform our Embassies about the arrest of Indian citizens. In case of Pakistan, as per the Agreement on Consular Access signed between Indian and Pakistan on May 21, 2008, the list of civil prisoners and fishermen in Pakistani jails is provided by Pakistan government twice a year," the minister said.
He further said that steps taken by Indian missions include requesting local authorities for speedy trials, seeking remission of sentence, providing advice and guidance in legal and other matters, ensuring fair and humane treatment in foreign jails, issue of emergency certificates and repatriation to India of those who are released.
"In cases of arrest of fishermen, the concerned government is also requested to consider the issue from a humanitarian and livelihood perspective," Muraleedharan said. In response to another question, he said 3,103 Indian fishermen were arrested during the last three years in Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar and Sri Lanka. Out of these, 2,779 have been freed, while 324 still remain in custody, according to the data given by him.
"102 cases related to fishermen have been filed in foreign courts since 2017. As a result of sustained diplomatic efforts by the government, 2,779 Indian fishermen have been released by foreign governments during the last three years," Muraleedharan said.