Don’t rush release of Pakistani prisoners, that seems to be the advice to the government from intelligence agencies when it comes to releasing nationals belonging to our neighbour who have been convicted for espionage or terror-related activities.
Agencies say that these prisoners would be an invaluable asset in the hands of anti-India agencies across the border.
Nearly 250 Pakistani nationals are lodged in Indian jails across a dozen states. A significant number are in jail for charges such as visa violations but there are many who are accused or convicted of security-related offences such as spying or terrorism.
The Home Ministry had repatriated another 10 people to Pakistan who had served out their jail term earlier this year.
“There are 14 Pakistani nationals who have recently completed their jail sentence,” a government official said, pointing that there were security concerns about half of them.
Intelligence officials insist that these nationals — a mix of spies and terrorists — could be pushed back into espionage by terrorists or intelligence agencies.
A Home Ministry official said this was a real concern and there was a need to exercise discretion in repatriation of such prisoners who could be a threat to India’s security.
The official suggested this decision for continued detention would, however, have to be taken on a case-to-case basis “It cannot be a blanket decision,” he said, pointing that the Centre would seek clearance from each state where the prisoner was lodged and the intelligence agencies before taking a call on the repatriation of any prisoner.