India Calls For Early Release And Repatriation Of Civilian Prisoners From Pakistan Custody

New Delhi: India and Pakistan on Saturday exchanged the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen in their custody through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said this is in keeping with the provisions of the 2008 agreement under which such lists are exchanged every year on January 1 and July 1.

The MEA said that New Delhi handed over lists 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,” the MEA added.

Stating 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, the MEA said: “In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 02 Indian civilian prisoners and 356 Indian fishermen to India whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan.”

“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 MEA added.

The MEA said the government also requested Islamabad 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 the country.

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

Asserting 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 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 further said Pakistan has in view of the Covid-19 pandemic been requested to ensure the safety, security and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civil prisoners and fishermen.