261 Indians in Pakistan custody, India demands early repatriation
At least 209 Indian fishermen and 52 other prisoners are in the custody of Pakistan, according to a list shared by the country, after which India demanded their early repatriation along with that of missing defence personnel.
India, on the other hand, has 256 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 99 fishermen in its custody.
The information became public as the two countries exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody.
This was done in keeping with the provisions of the 2008 Agreement under which such lists are exchanged on January 1 and July 1, every year, according to a statement issued by the External Affairs Ministry.
"Government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats," the MEA statement said.
India believes that at least 52 of its defence personnel, who went missing in the 1971 war, are in Pakistani custody but Pakistan has been in a denial mode all through.
"Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 10 Indian civil prisoners and 124 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed," the statement said.
India also asked Pakistan to "expedite the grant of visas to the members of the medical experts team, proposed to visit Pakistan to assess the mental condition of believed-to-be Indian prisoners of unsound mind, lodged in different jails of Pakistan", it said.
Pakistan was also asked to organise early visit of the Joint Judicial Committee to Pakistan and early visit of the 4-member team to Karachi in connection with release and repatriation of 22 Indian fishing boats.
"Immediate consular access has also been sought for the remaining prisoners and fishermen with the request to facilitate their earliest release and repatriation," the statement said.
"India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other's country," the MEA said.
In this context, India has also asked Pakistan to expedite its response in the case of 88 Pakistan prisoners, including fishermen, who have completed their sentences and await repatriation for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan, the statement said.
Pakistan had on Monday handed over to the High Commission of India a list of 261 Indian prisoners lodged in the country's jails, according to a statement by Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry.IANS