India asks Pakistan to speed up release and repatriation of Indian civilian prisoners

India asks Pakistan to speed up release and repatriation of Indian civilian prisoners

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India on Thursday called on Pakistan to ensure early release and repatriation of Indian civilian prisoners and missing defence personnel languishing in Pakistani jails.

The two countries exchanged lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in each other’s custody in line with the provisions of a 2008 agreement.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said India handed over a list of 271 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 74 fishermen who are in Indian custody.

Similarly, Pakistan shared a list of 51 civilian prisoners and 558 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or are believed-to-be Indians, the MEA said.

“The government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats, from Pakistan’s custody,” it said.

“In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 1 Indian civilian prisoner and 295 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan,” the MEA said in a statement.

In addition, Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to 194 fishermen and 17 civilian prisoners who are in Pakistan’s custody and are believed to be Indians, it added.

“The government also requested Pakistan to expedite the grant of visas to the members of the medical experts’ team and facilitate their visit to Pakistan to assess the mental condition of believed-to-be Indian prisoners of unsound mind, lodged in different jails of Pakistan,” the MEA said.

“It was also proposed to organise an early visit of the Joint Judicial Committee to Pakistan,” it said.

The MEA said India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s custody.

In this context, the MEA said India has also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 78 Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of confirmation of nationality by Islamabad.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civil prisoners and fishermen,” the MEA said.

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