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India asks Pakistan to release Indian prisoners in its custody

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India Friday called on Pakistan to release and repatriate 536 Indian fishermen and three civilian prisoners who have completed their jail term and whose nationality has been confirmed.

In addition, Pakistan has been asked to provide immediate consular access to 105 fishermen and 20 civilian prisoners who have been in Pakistan’s custody and are believed to be Indians, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said.

India made the request in the context of the exchange of the lists of civilian prisoners and fishermen by the two countries as part of a practice to do so on January 1 and July 1 every calendar year under the framework of a 2008 agreement. The MEA said India handed over a list of 309 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 95 fishermen in India’s custody to Pakistan.

“The government has called for early release and repatriation of civilian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel, and fishermen along with their boats, from Pakistan’s custody,” the MEA said in a statement.

“In this context, Pakistan was asked to expedite the release and repatriation of 536 Indian fishermen and three Indian civilian prisoners to India who have completed their sentence and whose nationality has been confirmed and conveyed to Pakistan,” it said.

The MEA said India remains committed to addressing, on priority, all humanitarian matters, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen in each other’s country. India has also urged Pakistan to expedite necessary action at its end to confirm the nationality status of 57 Pakistani prisoners, including fishermen, whose repatriation is pending for want of nationality confirmation by Pakistan.

“In view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Pakistan has been requested to ensure the safety, security, and welfare of all Indian and believed-to-be Indian civilian prisoners and fishermen,” the MEA said.

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