Indian fishermen There are 385 Indian fishermen, whose nationality has been confirmed

The External Affairs Ministry expressed deep concern over the long pending release and repatriation of Indian prisoners held under Pakistan custody despite completion of sentence and nationality confirmation.

The ministry also requested Pakistan High Commission to make immediate necessary arrangements for the immediate release and repatriation of 10 Indian civilian prisoners lodged in Pakistan jails who have already completed their sentence and whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to the Government of Pakistan.

Further, there are 385 Indian fishermen, whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to the Government of Pakistan and who have been languishing in Pakistan jails despite completing their sentence/s. It is requested that urgent and concrete steps be taken to repatriate them to India at the earliest, along with their boats. The list of these 385 fishermen is enclosed at Annexure A.

Further, the Ministry shares its serious concern and protest on the delayed information of the death of Indian fisherman Bhikha. "Our Mission in Islamabad had been repeatedly taking up the matter of poor health condition of Bhikha. The Government of Pakistan has not intimated the circumstances and causes leading to the death of Bhikha including details of medical facilities provided to him," the ministry stated to Pakistan High Commission.

This is not the first such case.

The death of Indian fishermen Deva Bhai and late Nanu Bhai, was informed after inordinate delay. "The Government of Pakistan is urged to ensure the safety, security and medical well-being of all Indian fishermen/prisoners as their physical safety and security is the responsibility of the Government of Pakistan. Arrangements may be made for expeditious repatriation of mortal remains of deceased Bhikha," the ministry stated.

India has been providing consular access in a timely manner to esteemed High Commission officials to their prisoners in India. However, consular access to Indian fishermen and prisoners in Pakistan jails is inordinately delayed. Such delays cause avoidable delay in confirmation of their nationality and thus detrimental to timely release of prisoners and fishermen.

"In this context, it is again informed that consular access for 5 civilian prisoners is still pending at Pakistan's end," the ministry stated.

However, no response has been received from the Government of Pakistan in this regard. It is requested that necessary steps may be taken immediately to locate, release and repatriate the missing Indian defence personnel believed to be held in Pakistan custody.