Of the 52 Indian civilians who are in Pakistani jails, 41 have already completed their prison terms but still continue to languish there. The details of these 52 were arranged by a youth-led India-Pakistan friendship initiative group, “Aaghaz-e-Dosti”, which filed an RTI query in July last year with the Ministry of External Affairs, said Ravi Nitesh, founder of Aaghaz-e-Dosti.
Of the remaining 12, the prison sentence of seven will end in the near future, whereas two are still facing trial. One prisoner, incarcerated in Central jail, Rawalpindi has been sentenced to death. There is no information on the remaining one. Of the 52 prisoners, five have not been provided with consular access.
One Raju Rai, son of Babu Rai, who is lodged in the Lahore Central Jail, completed his sentence in March 2011, more than six years ago. Another Indian citizen, Raju Mahouli, son of Amiyat Mahouli, is in Lahore Central Jail since July 2008 despite completing his sentence. He was provided consular access 10 times—last one in June 2015.
Official sources said that many of these prisoners, whom Pakistan claims are Indians and have completed their sentences, are not able to prove to the Indian officials that they are Indian citizens and hence the Indian government is unable to do much to get them back.
Two of them, Kaldeep Singh and Kaldeep Kumar, were sentenced to 25 years’ rigorous imprisonment in 1996. Their nationality was confirmed as Indian and they received consular access thrice. They will be completing their sentence in 2021. They were caught for “spying” under Section 59 of the Pakistan Army Act, the same section under which ex Indian Navy officer Kulbhushan Jadav has been sentenced. This section is used by Pakistan army against Indians and to suppress voices of human rights activists, lawyers, journalists and its own men who go against senior officers.
One prisoner, who has not been named but is only classified as “deaf and dumb”, completed his one-year rigorous imprisonment at Lahore Central Jail in January last year, but he still continues to be in prison. No consular access was provided to him. One Mohammad Shabir, son of Natha Khan, was sentenced to death without any consular access being given to him. He has been shown as a national of “Indian held Kashmir”. The same modus-operandi was adopted in the case of Jadhav. As per the Consular Access Agreement signed between the two countries on 21 May 2008, both are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody twice a year, on 1 January and 1 July. These 52 are apart from the 54 missing defence personnel who were taken as prisoners of war by Pakistan in the 1965 and 1971 wars.