A few hundred Indians, including fishermen, are said to be lodged in Pakistani jails (File photo)
NEW DELHI: India on Saturday called on Pakistan to release and repatriate 356 Indian fishermen and two civilian prisoners whose nationality has already been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistani authorities.
In addition, Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to 182 Indian fishermen and 17 civilian prisoners who are in Pakistan’s custody and are believed to be Indian, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.
India made the request in the context of the exchange of the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen by both the countries as part of a practice to do so on January 1 and July 1 of every calendar year under the framework of a 2008 agreement.
The MEA said India handed over a list of 282 Pakistan civilian prisoners and 73 fishermen in India’s custody to Pakistan. Similarly, Pakistan has shared lists of 51 civilian prisoners and 577 fishermen in its custody, who are Indians or are believed to be Indians.
It said India has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen, along with their boats, by Pakistan.
“In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of two Indian civilian prisoners and 356 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan,” the MEA said in a statement.
In addition, it said, Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to 182 Indian fishermen and 17 civilian prisoners who are in Pakistan’s custody and are believed to be Indians.
“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 remained committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country.
“In this context, India has also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 68 Pakistan prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan,” the MEA said.
“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,” it said.