Article 370 abrogation: Pakistan halts repatriation of Indian nationals in its custody

File photo. Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Nov 19, 2019, 07.44 AM (IST) Written By: Sidhant Sibal

Pakistan has halted release and repatriation of five Indians nationals and many Indian fishermen who have completed their sentence and waiting to be sent back.

According to list exchanged on July 1, Pakistan has 209 Indian fishermen and 52 Indian prisoners in its custody while India has 256 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 99 fishermen in its custody.

India and Pakistan exchange list of civilian prisoners and fishermen of each country lodged in the jails of each other on January 1 and July 1 every year, according to India-Pakistan ‘Agreement on Consular Access’ signed on May 21, 2008.

In fact, on August 5, when India announced abrogation of the special status for the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan had halted repatriation at Attari border of two Indians who were about to be sent back. WION had first reported about it on August 7.

To resolve humanitarian issues related to elderly, women and mentally unsound prisoners in each other’s custody and consider their early release and repatriation, India in October, 2017 had suggested to Pakistan to revive the mechanism of Joint Judicial Committee. 

New Delhi had also said a team of Indian medical experts could be allowed to visit the mentally unsound prisoners in Pakistan with a view to facilitating their nationality verification and subsequent repatriation.

While India did share the details of the medical experts' team and the reconstituted Joint Judicial Committee with Pakistan with the request to organise their visit, Islamabad has not responded so far.

In its first term, the Modi government was able to secure the release of 1,749 Indian prisoners, including 1,725 fishermen along with 57 boats.