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Pakistani prisoners languish in Punjab

Ajmal Mohammad Amin Kasab, the lone survivor among the November 26 Mumbai attackers, is not the only one disowned by Pakistan.

india Updated: Feb 12, 2009 01:15 IST
Manpreet Randhawa

Ajmal Mohammad Amin Kasab, the lone survivor among the November 26 Mumbai attackers, is not the only one disowned by Pakistan. Thirty-two people of Pakistani origin are at present languishing in different jails in Punjab because the Pakistan government refuses to accept them.

On the Punjab government’s repeated requests through the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, the Pakistan authorities did send a team of three judges to identify the prisoners. The Pakistani team visited the jails along with three Indian judges in August 2008. But there has been no communication from across the border since then.

A senior Punjab prison official said the state government had already spent over Rs 1 crore on Pakistani prisoners this financial year, as “according to court orders, we have to give Rs 100 every day to each foreign national who has completed his sentence, besides providing food, shelter and other daily needs. We have no option but to keep them in transit camps.”

According to the information available with Hindustan Times, till January 31, 2009, the Punjab jails had 176 foreign nationals, including 11 women. While 120 are lodged in Amritsar Central Jail, 16 are in Ferozepur, 13 in Patiala, four in Gurdaspur and one each in Sangrur, Bhatinda and Jalandhar.

While most foreign nationals in Punjab jails – 66 – are from Bangladesh, Pakistan accounts for the second highest number at 58. The remaining came from some Asian and African countries. The charges vary from not possessing travel documents and overstaying the visa limit to possessing arms or narcotics.

Take, for example, the case of Abdul Sharif of Dekhsabar police station area in Baluchustan. He was arrested by the Indian security forces on April 14, 1997 for crossing over without proper documents. He was sentenced for three months, ended on July 17, 1997. But even after more than 11 years, he is still lodged in Amritsar, because Pakistan refused to own him.

Altaf-ur-Rehman of Karachi was arrested in 2002 and was sentenced for one year, which ended on August 7, 2003. Mohmmad Aslam Khan of Musargabad Miannir colony in Lahore was also arrested in 2003. Khan was sentenced for eight months, which ended on November 15 in 2003. It is for more than five years since that both have been languishing in Punjab jails.