Believed to be Indian nationals, Gullo Jan, Naqaya, Hasina and Ajmeera are among 17 “mentally unsound persons” who are still lodged in Pakistani jails as they have not been able to give any other particulars about themselves except their names.
Of these 17 persons, four are women and the remaining are men aged between 25 to 60 years.
Due to their mentally unsound condition, the names of parents or relatives of these 17 persons as well as their address in India is yet to be ascertained, resulting in their incarceration in jails in Pakistan.
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has released photographs of these individuals in an “important announcement”. They have been shared with all states and Union Territories (UTs) to circulate in their regions to get inputs about these persons.
In the announcement, it is mentioned that the persons who can identify these 17 persons should give the information to Under Secretary (Foreigners) in the Ministry of Home Affairs; home department of state governments or UT administration concerned; or Director General of Police or Inspector General of Police or Commissioner of Police of state government and UT concerned.
“Photographs of 17 mentally unsound persons, believed to be Indian nationals, who are lodged in jails in Pakistan, are attached. These persons have not been able to disclose any other particulars about them including the names of their parents or relatives, address in India, etc. due to their mentally unsound condition,” the announcement mentions.
Indians lodged in Pakistani jails and vice versa is not a new phenomenon, but the two countries share the list of their prisoners twice every year.
Pakistan in January this year handed over a list of 319 Indian prisoners including 49 civilians and 270 fishermen lodged in the country’s jails to the High Commission of India as part of a bilateral agreement.
The 17 mentally unsound persons are in the list of those people who are believed to be Indians, said a source.
Besides, the four women the 13 men lodged in the Pakistani jails have been identified as Sonu Singh, Surinder Mahto, Prahlad Singh, Silrof Salim, Birju, Raju, Bipla, Roopi Pal, Panwasi Lal, Raju, Shyam Sunder, Ramesh and Raju Roy.
As per the Foreign Office (FO), the step is consistent with the provisions of the Consular Access Agreement between the two countries signed on May 21, 2008.
The two countries under the agreement are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other’s custody twice a year, on January 1 and July 1. Despite recurrent tension over the years, the two countries have been exchanging the lists of prisoners without any break.
The exchange of information comes despite the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan.
The relationship dipped after India’s war planes pounded a terrorist training camp deep inside Pakistan on February 26, 2019 in response to the Pulwama terror attack carried out by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror group in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) troopers were killed.
Tensions between the two nations spiked further after New Delhi abrogated provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution to withdraw Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.
Pakistan downgraded its diplomatic relations with India and expelled the Indian High Commissioner following the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5, 2019.
(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at [email protected])