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India seeks consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav, Hamid Nehal Ansari held in Pakistan

Indian and Pakistan exchanged lists of prisoners being held in each other’s jails - there are 250 Pakistani civilians and 94 fishermen in Indian jails.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2018 22:25 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
New Delhi/Islamabad, Hindustan Times
Kulbhushan Jadhav,Hamid Nehal Ansari,Consular access
Former Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadhav's wife and mother meet him while seated across a glass partition at the Pakistan Foreign Office in Islamabad on December 25. (PTI file)

India on Monday reiterated its demand for consular access to Kulbhushan Jadhav and Hamid Nehal Ansari, both currently in custody in Pakistan, as the two countries exchanged lists of prisoners being held in each other’s jails.

Jadhav is currently on death row after a Pakistani military court gave him capital punishment for alleged involvement in espionage. Ansari, who was arrested after he illegally entered Pakistan in 2012 to meet a woman he befriended on social media, was given a three-year prison term by a military court that will end in December.

“We also await consular access to those Indian nationals in Pakistan’s custody for whom it has so far not been provided, including Kulbhushan Jadhav and Hamid Nehal Ansari,” the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

Both countries exchange lists of prisoners twice a year in line with the agreement on Consular Access signed in May 2008. According to the latest Indian list, there are 250 Pakistani civilians and 94 fishermen in Indian jails. Pakistan allowed Jadhav to meet his wife and mother on December 25 but Islamabad’s handling of the meeting sparked a row between the two countries.

The Indian side also asked Pakistan to speed up the confirmation of the nationality another 58 Pakistani nationals, including four fishermen, who had completed their prison terms. The statement said a juvenile named Hasnain, whose nationality was verified by Pakistan, would be repatriated on Monday.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement that 457 Indians, including 58 civilians and 399 fishermen, were currently in the country’s prisons.

Islamabad also announced it would release 146 Indian fishermen on January 8.

The external affairs ministry statement said India is committed to addressing humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen. The government has “repeatedly emphasised the need for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats”, it said.

Both countries arrest hundreds of fishermen each year on charges of crossing the maritime boundary. Many of the fishermen languish in jail for months and even years after completing their sentences.

On Monday, India and Pakistan also exchanged the lists of nuclear installations and facilities covered under the bilateral Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear Installations.

The agreement, which was signed in December 1988 and entered into force in January 1991, states that the two countries should inform each other of nuclear installations and facilities to be covered under the pact on January 1 every calendar year. This was the 27th consecutive exchange of such lists between the two side since 1992.

First Published: Jan 01, 2018 18:05 IST