SRINAGAR: At least eight persons from Jammu and Kashmir are languishing in jails in foreign countries, Parliament was informed on Thursday.
Among them, two are in Pakistan, two in Bangladesh and three each in Lebanon, Portugal and Cambodia, minister of state, External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan said in a written reply in Rajya Sabha while responding to a query member Prof. Manoj Kumar Jha who had sought details of Indian nationals lodged in foreign prisons, domicile-wise, sex-wise and offence-wise.
The eight persons from Jammu and Kashmir are among 7139 Indian prisoners including under-trials in the foreign jails, the MoS said as per news agency GNS.
“Due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, the local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information. Even countries which share information do not generally provide detailed information about the foreign nationals imprisoned.”
To a question regarding the total number of applications for repatriation received and total number of Indian nationals repatriated from foreign prisons since the enactment of the Repatriation of Prisoners Act in 2003, the MoS said: “After the enactment of the Repatriation of Prisoners Act in 2003, 205 applications for repatriation have been received and 73 Indian prisoners have been repatriated from foreign prisons.”
He said there are 31 countries with which India has bilateral agreements in regard to repatriation of prisoners.
Regarding the inter-ministerial process of interaction between different Ministries and Departments and the average time taken to process repatriation requests, he said, “There is a regular process of inter-Ministerial meetings, consultation and coordination between the Ministries of External Affairs and Home Affairs on the issue of repatriation of Indian nationals in foreign prisons including in the context of bilateral agreements for Transfer of Sentenced Persons (TSP).”
Transfer of sentenced persons involves several stages of processing, namely obtaining consent of the transferring country, availability of complete documentation necessary for processing the request, obtaining comments of the State Government concerned and identification of the specific prison where the prisoner is to be lodged, making escort arrangements by the State Government concerned for transfer from foreign country to India, clearance from various agencies etc, he said further. “All these factors have to be attended to while processing request transfer, “he said, adding, “Therefore, no rigid timeline can be fixed for completion of such requests as the fulfilment of requirement depends on receiving complete documentation and clearance from foreign Governments, State Governments and other relevant agencies etc.