The Punjab government has been forced to pay a compensation of Rs 20 lakh to Pakistani prisoners lodged in its jails even though they have completed their sentences. Some prisoners who completed their jail terms eight to 10 years ago are among those lodged in Amritsar’s Central Jail.
Jails officials said the state government has so far paid compensation to 42 Pakistani prisoners, of whom 11 are still to be repatriated after completion of their sentences. They were given compensation after the Punjab and Haryana High Court passed an order to this effect.
On April 26, 2006, a division bench comprising Justices H.S. Bedi and Ranjit Singh had directed Punjab to pay Rs 10,000 per year to each Pakistani prisoner languishing in the state’s jails after completing his or her term.
Jail records reveal that besides 11 prisoners getting their compensation on a fortnightly basis, 38 other such Pakistani prisoners have now been added to the list of those still in the Amritsar jail.
For instance, Abdul Sharif (Sakhi) Gulam Ahmed in the Central jail of Amritsar, completed his sentence in July 1997 while Mukhtar Ahmed of Kasur completed his term nine years ago.
There are three women prisoners too – Shukla Ghosh (completed sentence in October 2000), Farzeena Sareen (November 2007) and Seema (January 2008).
DGP (Jails) Mohammed Izhar Alam said the matter had been taken up with the Centre on several occasions and the list of those overstaying in Punjab jails had already been provided to the Union Home Ministry.
“Our efforts to ensure the prisoners’ return to Pakistan, however, has been frustrated by a lack of positive response from the Pakistani side,” he added.
Although the Pakistani authorities were provided with details of such prisoners, their addresses could not be verified and thus Pakistani officials refused to take them back. A deaf and dumb prisoner is also among the inmates.