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Krishna confused, PM intervenes to clarify

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened during question hour in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday after external affairs minister SM Krishna referred to jailed Pakistani doctor, Mohammad Khalil Chisti, as being lodged in a Pakistan jail.

delhi Updated: Aug 12, 2011 01:47 IST
HT Correspondent

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh intervened during question hour in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday after external affairs minister SM Krishna referred to jailed Pakistani doctor, Mohammad Khalil Chisti, as being lodged in a Pakistan jail.

Singh said he has directed the home minister to talk with the Rajasthan government regarding the release of Chisti.
Krishna was replying to a question from the JD(U) member Shivanand Tiwari, and CPI(M) member Brinda Karat corrected him.

"Chishti is serving a prison sentence in Rajasthan. When I received this request, I contacted the home minister, who is also in touch with Rajasthan government," said Singh.

Recently, Supreme Court judge Justice Markandeya Katju had made a personal appeal to Singh, seeking Chisti's release on humanitarian grounds.

Replying to a question from Karat, Krishna asked Pakistan to take a humanitarian view and release Sarabjit Singh, an Indian national who is on death row after being convicted for alleged involvement in bomb attacks in Pakistan.

Krishna said Sarabjit Singh was sentenced to death on September 15, 1991, on allegations that he was involved in three bomb blasts in Lahore and one in Multan.

"It is not our case that he was involved (in those blasts). We don't share that (Pakistan's view of his involvement)," added Krishna. India has taken up the matter with Pakistan "very seriously".

"It is necessary for them to take a humanitarian view of the petition. The issue is being pursued with all diligence,” said Krishna, referring to Sarabjit's mercy petition. Krishna said there are 558 Indian nationals in custody in Pakistan.
Of these, 232 are civilian prisoners, 252 fishermen and 74 missing defence personnel.

“Pakistan has acknowledged the presence of only 72 Indian civilian prisoners and 237 fishermen in its jails. But it doesn't acknowledge the presence of any missing defence personnel in custody," he Krishna, replying to a question from MS Gill.