Civil Society urges India to repatriate Pakistani prisoners
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Last Updated: Wednesday, September 08, 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.


First Published: Wednesday, September 08, 2010, 22:26

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