Diplomacy

'Allow Doctors to Verify Nationality of Indian Prisoners of Unsound Mind,' Govt Had Requested Pak

As many as 275 Indians, including fishermen, are believed to be in Pakistan's custody, the government said in parliament.

New Delhi: India has requested Pakistan to facilitate the visit of a team of Indian medical doctors to its jails. The purpose of the team’s visit would be so they can meet prisoners of unsound mind – who are believed to be Indian – to verify their nationality and subsequently repatriate them.

However, “Pakistan has not responded (to the request) so far,” said the government.

The answer came as a written response to Lok Sabha MPs Mahabali Singh and Gurjeet Singh Ahuja, from Minister of State for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan, who did not mention when the request was made to the neighbouring country.

The minister further said that according to available information, 275 Indians, including fishermen, are at present believed to be in Pakistan’s custody.

However, as per the list shared on January 1, 2020 (a standard practice between the two countries) Pakistan has acknowledged that it has custody of 262 of them.

Also read: The True Story of India’s Decision to Release 93,000 Pakistani POWs After 1971 War

Importantly, he pointed out that in addition, there are 83 cases of missing Indian defence personnel including prisoners of war (PoWs) whose custody has not been acknowledged by Pakistan so far.

In 2017, sharing data with parliament, then minister V.K. Singh said that there were 75 missing defence personnel in Pakistan’s custody, including 54 PoWs.

In her recently published book on the PoWs of the India-Pakistan wars, Missing in Action: Those Who Never Returned, journalist author Chander Suta Dogra said the figure of 83 missing persons includes 53 from the 1964 and 1971 and the remaining from peacetime disappearances from near India’s borders with Pakistan.

Citing further data, Muraleedharan said that since 2014, India has “succeeded in securing release and repatriation of 2,133 Indian prisoners, including fishermen from Pakistan’s custody”.

The data includes six fishermen released by Pakistan on January 6.