There are at least 344 Pakistani prisoners in Indian jails and nearly 457 Indian prisoners in Pakistan’s prisons, according to a list shared by authorities of two countries early this year
Islamabad: Pakistan on Thursday repatriated an ailing Indian prisoner on humanitarian grounds so he could be with his family.
Jitendra Arjunwar, who is suffering from thalassaemia, was released from Karachi’s juvenile jail early morning and flown to Lahore. Arjunwar, who had crossed into Pakistan unintentionally five years ago, was handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border on Thursday.
Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said that Arjunwar was being released “on compassionate grounds” due to his deteriorating health condition, which was worsening because of a “debilitating blood disease.”
Pakistan FO spokesperson maintained that Jitendra was arrested in 2014 and, even though he was given instant consular access, India did not confirm his nationality until April 2018. His sentence had ended the same year he was arrested but the delay in India’s confirmation of his nationality took his release more than three years.
Arjunwar, a resident of Indian’s Madhya Pradesh, had entered Pakistan from the Rajasthan border on August 12, 2013, following an argument with his family. He was under treatment at the juvenile jail before being transferred to district jail Landhi where all Indian prisoners have been kept since January 2015.
The decision to repatriate Arjunwar was a tough one as 48 Pakistani prisoners have still not been returned by India despite having completed all the formalities, pointed out Dr Faisal.
“We believe that humanitarian issues should not be politicised. We hope to see our prisoners repatriated [and reunited] with their families [as well].”
In March 2018, Pakistan and India agreed on the release of certain civilian prisoners — women, mentally challenged and those above 70 years of age — on humanitarian grounds.
There are at least 344 Pakistani prisoners (250 civilians, 94 fishermen) in Indian jails and nearly 457 Indian prisoners (58 civilian and 399 fishermen) in Pakistan’s prisons, according to a list shared by the authorities of two countries early this year. Pakistan released 146 fishermen in January 2018.