Civil Society urges India to repatriate Pakistani prisoners

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - 22:26

New Delhi: After the release of 442 Indian
fishermen from Pakistani jails, civil society representatives
from the neighbours today requested the government here to
"reciprocate" by repatriating all those Pakistani prisoners
who have completed their sentence.

A six-member delegation, which included member of
India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners Justice (retd)
Nasir Aslam Zahid and Bollywood director Mahesh Bhatt, met UPA
chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Home Minister P Chidambaram
urging for the release of the prisoners in "letter and spirit"
of the directions given by the Supreme Court here recently in
this regard.

"The Home Minister was very clear. He said that any
Pakistani who has completed the sentence will be released
immediately and the government will follow the Supreme Court
judgement in this regard," Justice Zahid told reporters.

He described Chidambaram`s statement as "very healthy
signal given by the Indian government" and said nationality of
71 (Pakistani) prisoners have been confirmed by Pakistan and
their "travelling documents" have been issued by it.
"Everything is ready."

About their meeting with Gandhi, he said she was "very
receptive".

"Mahesh Bhatt represented the delegation before
Gandhi saying miracle has been created by Pakistan in this
murky atmosphere by releasing 442 prisoners and there is no
reason why we should not reciprocate and respond," Zahid said.

According to the information given by the Pakistan
High Commission, those 71 prisoners who have completed their
sentences include 28 ordinary citizens and 43 fishermen,
Zahid said.

Former Law Minister and Attorney General of Pakistan
Iqbal Haider, who was also part of the delegation, said that
"positive response" given by the Indian authorities is "matter
of pride, particularly Sonia ji".

"She said thank you. These two words expressed with
sentiments and feelings meant a lot to us. It made us very
proud," he said.

He hoped that Indian government will announced the
release of 71 prisoners tomorrow saying, "we are leaving
tomorrow for Pakistan and I want to go with the message to the
people of Pakistan that civil society have persuaded the
Indian authority to release them."

He said "our target for release of Indian prisoners
is 586, not 442."

"There are 128 Indian prisoners who are undertrial and
we have to make effort to expedite their trial. There are 12
Indian fishermen whose nationality is not being confirmed. I
have written letter to Indian High Commission in Pakistan to
expedite the process to confirm their nationality," he said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 - 22:26

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