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More nationals in Pakistan jails than acknowledged: India

India has contradicted Pakistan on the number of Indian prisoners languishing in jails of the neighbouring country.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) informed the Lok Sabha last week that 337 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, were believed to be in Pakistan's custody. However, as per the lists exchanged between India and Pakistan on January 1, Pakistan acknowledged the custody of only 261 Indian prisoners.

As per information available with the MEA, 270 Indian fishermen are believed to be in Pakistan's custody. However, Pakistan has acknowledged the custody of only 207 Indian fishermen.

“The Government, upon receipt of reports of apprehension of the Indian fishermen, immediately takes up the matter with Pakistan through diplomatic channels and seeks immediate consular access as well as their early release and repatriation, along with fishing boats. As a result of persistent efforts, the Government has been successful in securing the release and repatriation of 2,100 Indian fishermen, from Pakistan’s custody since 2014, so far,” the MEA told the Lok Sabha.

In addition, there is the issue of 83 missing Indian defence personnel, including prisoners of war, whose custody has not been acknowledged by Pakistan, so far, according to the MEA.

“The Government consistently pursues the case of early release and repatriation of the Indian nationals languishing in Pakistan jails. In addition, the High Commission of India in Islamabad, on a continuing basis, provides humanitarian and legal assistance to Indian nationals imprisoned in Pakistan, including regular distribution of items of daily necessity to them through Pakistan jail authorities,” the ministry said.

As per the information available with the MEA, the number of Indian prisoners in the Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka was 1,487 on January 31. Bangladeshi jails have 157 Indians in jails, Nepal has 886 and Sri Lanka 107.

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