Indo-Pak panel meets Pak prisoners in Amritsar

Amritsar: Members of India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners, who on Friday met 45 Pakistani nationals lodged in the Central Jail here, today stressed on providing early consular access to inmates and ensuring early repatriation of those who have finished their sentence.

The delegation comprising MA Khan and AS Gill from India and Nasir Aslam Zahir and Mia Muhammad Ajmal from Pakistan reviewed the status of Pakistani prisoners who have completed their sentence awarded by Indian courts.

During visit, the members were told that the repatriation of many Pakistani prisoners was delayed as they were awaiting clearance from Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi which would issue them 'emergency travel certificate' enabling them to cross the international border, officials said here

The members of the joint committee told reporters that during the visit, many prisoners were allowed to hold telephonic talk with their family members in Pakistan.

They said that 46 Pakistani prisoners are lodged in the Central Tihar jail in Delhi, 98 prisoners in central jail in Jaipur and 45 in Amritsar.

Before coming to Amritsar, Committee members visited the other jails to facilitate counsular access to Pakistani prisoners.

On the issue of fishermen being arrested after they cross into each others' waters inadvertently during fishing in the Arabian sea, the Committee members said it had already endorsed a recommendation at the Home Secretary level talks held in March last year to task the Pakistani Maritime Security Agency and Coast Guard of India to work on setting up mechanism for release of inadvertent crossers and their boats, on the same lines as on land.

It was recommended that fisherman should be repatriated by sea lanes along with boats.

It was also suggested that the next visit of the committee to Pakistan jails would be arranged during the second half of April.

The committee would review action taken on its recommendations when it meets next in Pakistan.

Asked about prisoners who are mentally ill, the panel said that it has instructed that their repatriation should be ensured at the earliest and till that time they would be shifted to a care home.