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HindustanTimes Thu,31 Jul 2014

India snubs Pak, says no to release of 50 prisoners

Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 13, 2013
First Published: 23:46 IST(13/9/2013) | Last Updated: 03:22 IST(14/9/2013)

India has conveyed to Pakistan that it will not be able to release 50 of their nationals from Indian jail, though Islamabad has said that they have completed their sentences. But it has emerged that these prisoners have other cases against them, and India clarified that as sentences are only for one case, they cannot be set free.

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After releasing 337 Indian fishermen recently, Pakistan was hoping for “a similar humanitarian gesture” that would help address their domestic constituency ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s proposed talk with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations general assembly meeting in the last week of September.

But New Delhi says facts on the ground are different. “We do repatriate all foreign prisoners who completed their term. There is an apex court order that says all foreign prisoners who completed their sentences should be sent back to their respective countries,” Indian sources said.

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However, completing “sentence is one case” doesn’t make a person free if he has other cases against them, they added. Pakistan had released 337 Indian fishermen, who had completed their sentences and whose nationalities were confirmed.

There were another 25 crew members who were released early. Pakistan had said that it was a humanitarian gesture and expected India to reciprocate.  A list of Pakistani prisoners lodged in jails in India was exchanged with the Pakistan High Commission on January 1, 2013. India and Pakistan exchange prisoners list twice a year.

A joint statement issued after the sixth meeting of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners in May this year said that 535 Indian prisoners, including 483 fishermen are in district jail Malir, Karachi; eight are at Adiyala jail, Rawalpindi; and 36 prisoners at Kot Lakhpat jail, Lahore. They were presented before the committee.


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