Joint Statement on Sixth meeting of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners to Pakistan


 

May 03, 2013

  1. Members of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners visited Pakistani Jails in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Lahore from April 26-May 1, 2013. The members of the Committee, Justice (Retd.) Mr A.S Gill and Justice (Retd) Mr. M.A Khan from the Indian side and Justice (Retd) Abdul Qadir Chaudhry, Justice (Retd.) Mr. Nasir Aslam Zahid and Justice (Retd.) Mian Muhammad Ajmal from Pakistan side visited the Jails.
  2. A total number of 535 Indian prisoners including 483 fishermen (including 11 juveniles) and 8 civil prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at District Jail Malir, Karachi, 8 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi and 36 Prisoners, believed to be Indian nationals at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore were presented before the Committee.
  3. The Committee also visited Jinnah Hospital, Lahore and saw Indian prisoner Sarabjit Singh, who was admitted in the Intensive Care Unit of the Hospital on April 26, 2013 following an assault on him by few other inmates in the prison and is in a state of coma. The Committee interacted with the doctors about the prognosis of the case. The Committee noted the unfortunate incident of violent attacks on two Indian prisoners at Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore and recommended that Jail authorities to ensure adequate security for all Indian prisoners to avoid any such incident in the future; and would review the arrangements during its next visit to Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore. The Committee also recommended that detailed report of the official inquiry conducted by relevant Pakistani authorities on the assault on Sarabjit Singh on April 26, 2013 be shared with the members of the Committee at the earliest.
  4. The Committee was also informed about escape of one under-trial Indian fisherman from District Jail, Malir, Karachi on February 11, 2013 and detention of the crew of the two Indian wooden vessels along with its cargo, off Pasni, Pakistan on April 18/19 by Pakistan authorities and requested Pakistan side to apprise about these two incidents to Indian side at the earliest.
  5. The Committee noted with satisfaction that as per the Agreement on Consular Access signed on 21st May 2008 between the two countries, the list of prisoners was exchanged on 1st January 2013. The Committee appreciated the release of 684 Indian fishermen and 30 Indian civil prisoners by Pakistani authorities and 96 Pakistani fisherman and 59 Pakistani civil prisoners by Indian authorities since January 2012 till date.
  6. On the conclusion of the visit, the Committee made the following recommendations:

a) The “Consular Access Agreement” of May 2008 signed between two governments be implemented in letter and spirit and consular access must be provided within three months of the arrest and not after completion of the prisoners’ prison term. Complete details of charges on the prisoners and a copy of court’s judgment of the sentence be shared in each case. The prisoners must be repatriated within one month of confirmation of national status and completion of sentences;it was noticed that in District Jail Malir, Karachi, there were 29 Indian prisoners who had completed their sentence more than a month ago; it was recommended that they be released and repatriated before May 17, 2013 and the two Governments should make all efforts that the time schedule is complied with strictly.

b) Consular access must be provided immediately to all those prisoners who have not been given consular access so far and the process of nationality confirmation should start immediately after consular access is provided;it was found that there were 459 fishermen and 10 such civil prisoners in the three jails for whom consular access was not provided. The Committee recommended providing consular access to all such prisoners and fishermen before May 17and the Pakistani side agreed for the same.

c) Consular access be provided to all prisoners/fishermen who are believed to be Indian, in Pakistani jails and vice versa, every year, at least four times, namely in the first week of February, first week of May, first week of August, and first week of November.

d) The Committee noted that several names of prisoners had been dropped from the successive lists of prisoners, believed to be Indian, which were shared by Pakistan side twice every year. It is recommended that Pakistan side provide a formal verification to Indian side and vice versa if any names were left out from the previous list of prisoners, so that each side could follow up on each case and discrepancy in list maintained by each side reduced.

e) A mechanism should be developed for compassionate and humanitarian consideration to be given to women, juvenile, mentally challenged, old aged and all those prisoners suffering from serious illness/permanent physical disability;Indian prisoners (like Pakistani prisoners in Karachi jail) should be allowed to make phone calls to their relatives in India at least once a month. The Indian prisoners appreciated the provision of basic necessities to them by the Prison and further demanded that they should be given some additional facilities. It is recommended that the existing facilities be continued and additional facilities required be provided by the Prison Authorities. Further, High Commission of India is allowed to supplementing any such requests for Indian prisoners.

f) It was also recommended that serious/terminally ill, mentally challenged and deaf and mute prisoners must be kept in appropriate hospitals/special institutions irrespective of confirmation of their national status and offence;it would noticed that 1 prisoner in District Jail, Malir, Karachi, 2 prisoners in Adiyala Jail, Rawalpindi and 20 prisoners in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore were mentally challenged; additionally, copies of the FIR, medical report and photograph at the time of their detention, to be shared with the High Commission of India, so that renewed efforts could be made to confirm their nationality; moreover, effort should also be made to rule out that these prisoners are not Pakistani nationals.

g) While noting that mortal remains of Mr Chambail Singh, Indian prisoner at Kot Lakhpat Jail, was repatriated to India after a lapse of nearly 2 months after his death on January 15, 2013, the copy of the post mortem report has not yet been shared with Indian side. It was recommended that post mortem report of Mr Chambail Singh be shared with the Indian side without any further delay.

h) Prisoners involved in minor offences like violation of Foreigners’ Act, visa violation and inadvertent border crossing deserve compassion from both the sides.

i) The Committee noted that the respective courts must be requested for expeditious trial of all “under trial” prisoners. Respective High Commissions should create a panel of good repute lawyers/firms to pursue the cases of their prisoners in the local courts to locate, identify and defend such prisoners at all stages of their cases, if the prisoner(s) so wishes.

j) The Committee also endorsed the recommendations of the Home/Interior Secretary level talks held on 28-29 March 2011 at New Delhi to task the Pakistani Maritime Security Agency and Coast Guard of India to work on setting up a mechanism for release of inadvertent crossers (fishermen) and their boats, on the same lines as the inadvertent crossers on land; It was recommended that the fishermen should be repatriated by sea lanes along with their boats;a delegation of boat owners could visit Pakistan within the next 3 months to inspect all the Indian fishing boats detained in Pakistan so that decision could be taken regarding their return to India or sale in Pakistan, in consultation with concerned authorities and the same action be taken for return of Pakistani fishing vessels detained in India.

k) It was suggested that, subject to the confirmation of dates by both the sides through diplomatic channels, the next visit of the Committee to Indian jails will be arranged during the second half of September 2013 for at least 7- 9 days to ensure that the Committee is able to see each case in detail.

l) The Committee will review the action taken report on the earlier recommendations when the Committee meets next in India.

Justice (Retd.)Mr A.S Gill                                                             Justice (Retd.) Abdul Qadir Chaudhry
Justice (Retd.) Mr. M.A Khan                                                        Justice (Retd.) Mr. Nasir Aslam Zahid
                                                                           Justice (Retd.) and Mian Muhammad Ajmal

Lahore
April 30, 201

 

#RIP- Iqbal Haider was a voice of voiceless people # Obituary


 

Agencies and Jatin Desai

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Mr. Iqbal Haider was born on January 14 1945. He was a close associate of Benazir Bhutto. He was elected as a Senator in 1991 and soon became law minister of Pakistan. He also served as an Attorney General of Pakistan. Frustrated with Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), he quit it in 2005 and concentrated on human right issues. He will always be remembered as a man of principle. He was a successful lawyer and he always stood for the cause of downtrodden.

Former Law Minister, and co-chairman of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan Iqbal Haider passed away on Sunday in a local hospital here in Karachi. He was suffering from lungs ailment.

His funeral prayer will be offered after Zuhar prayer on Monday at Imambargah Yasrub in phase IV Defence Housing Society, Karachi.

Iqbal Haider was one of the founder member of Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD) & Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). He was a true champion of peace. Till he breathe his last, he was trying for an enduring peace between India and Pakistan. In fact, he was planning to come to Mumbai on 26th November 2012 for Mr. Kuldip Nayar’s  felicitation to be held on 28th November.

He was disturbed with the growing influence of fundamentalism in Pakistan and elsewhere. He never missed an opportunity to criticise Taliban and other extremist forces. He was aspiring for a Secular Pakistan. In fact, in June this year he took an initiative and launched The Forum for Secular Pakistan along with few friends.

Iqbal Haider often used to quote Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s historic delivered in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11 1947. Mr. Jinnah had said”In the course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense… but in the political sense as citizens of the Pakistan.

Mahesh Bhatt was aghast when he called me and so many of his Indian friends. He had a vast friend circle. I have fond memories of him. We travelled together to Coastal Gujarat & Diu in September 2011. The fishermen of Gujarat & Diu had organized his & Justice (R) Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali’s felicitation programme. Thanks to their efforts Pakistan had released 442 Indian fishermen in the last week of August & first week of September 2010.  Iqbal Haider appeared for Indian fishermen in the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

When Pakistan released 442 Indian fishermen he was equally keen that India must reciprocate. He immediately flew to Delhi along with Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid & Karamat Ali. Before flying to Delhi, he told me, Mahesh Bhatt & Kuldip Nayar that they are coming and you should do ‘miracle’ and see India release Pakistani fishermen. We met UPA Chairperson Sonial Gandhi and then Home Minister P Chidambaram and  could get around 50 Pakistani fishermen released.

He was conferred with Mother Teressa Memorial Award for Social justice in 2010.

The Coastal Gujarat’s travel was hectic. We travelled around 700 km by road. He was not feeling well. He was a diabetic and used to take Insulin. But, he was not tired. Though, he told me that now we are no younger and the programme should not be too hectic. I feel sorry now. He was also one of the leader of the lawyers’ movement for the restoration of judiciary.

He was in the forefront of the movement launched by Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) for the removal of Martial Law. He was arrested at least ten times by then military dictator Zia ul Haq between 1981-1986.

He was also a political commentator. He used to write articles for various English newspapers of Pakistan. Indian media, too, has published many of his articles on the socio-political scenario of Pakistan.

He left us at a time when his presence was needed most. He was a voice of voiceless people.

Ailing boy among 7 Indian fishermen released #India #Pakistan #Goodnews


October 25, 2012 by Shazia Hasan, Dawn

KARACHI, Oct 24: “I am not a fisherman. I was never meant to be here,” said 17-year-old Kishan Babu before being released from the Malir district prison here on Wednesday.

The young Indian from Gujarat said that he was only on an outing at sea with his fisherman uncle when they found themselves in Pakistani waters where they were taken into custody and their boat seized.

That was in November 2011. And Kishan’s uncle, Dana Bhai, has also been released in the meantime while Kishan himself was declared unfit for travel by doctors despite his name being in the list of prisoners for release as many as four times.

The boy was being treated for brain abscess at the Civil Hospital Karachi with other Indian fishermen confirming the fact that he had water coming out of his ears while on the boat last year.

Kishan’s name first came up for release on May 17, 2012, but it was only now that he was considered well enough to travel in the coach that would take the seven fishermen to Lahore from where they would be handed over to the Indian authorities at Wagah on Thursday morning.

About his impression of the people of Pakistan and their attitude towards him, Kishan, who still looked frail, said that everyone had been very kind to him. “I wasn’t very clear about my future after passing class 10, but now I want to become a doctor like the doctors and surgeons who took care of me here,” Kishan told Dawn.

The other fishermen have been here for six months. Among them was Krishan Soma Saraniya. “I have a wife and six children back home. They hadn’t a clue as to what had happened to me until I sent them a message through another fisherman who was released from here three months ago.

Now my family writes to me. They call, too, but I prefer letters to phone calls because I can’t handle their crying. They always cry when they call,” he said with eyes brimming with tears.

“Now it’s my turn to cry,” he said looking slightly embarrassed at getting emotional on being released.

“There are nine more fishermen who were arrested around the same time as we, but their names didn’t come up this time,” said 22-year-old Vipul. He said he would still be catching fish after retuning to India, but would be more careful next time.

“I have two younger sisters and two younger brothers back home and with them still in school, and me not there, my poor father is finding it very hard to make both ends meet,” he said. “Fishing is what I know. It is what I do.”

All the other men — Ramesh Sagal Chawda, Amrit Lal Badiya, Harshit and Bhagal Bhagvan — were glad to be leaving, too, finally, their bags neatly packed and lined up by a wall in the prison.

A polythene bag on one of the bags had a few juice boxes and biscuit packets.

“They are for Kishan,” said Amrit Lal Badiya. “He has completed his medicine courses but has been advised to take plenty of juices and biscuits to get his strength back,” he added while lending his recuperating friend a shoulder to lean on.

Meanwhile, a few Indian fishermen inmates also came to say goodbye to the seven who were leaving. They also wanted to see them off outside where the wagon arranged by Legal Aid Office, headed by retired Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, stood waiting for them.

“Where do you think you all are off to? Back to your barracks please now. Don’t think you can fool us into getting out. You are in jail. Not even a fly gets out of here without being noticed,” said a jail staffer wagging a finger at the Indian inmates jokingly as the others were allowed to leave.

Warm memories of time in Pak jail


Justice Nasir Aslam Ahmed

Justice Nasir Aslam Ahmed

Anahita Mukherji, Times of India |

Within half an hour of the retreat ceremony at the Wagah-Attari junction,
the two gates on either side of a thin white line that forms the border
between India and Pakistan were re-opened once again at twilight on January
8. And 183 weary-eyed Indian prisoners released from Pakistan began
trickling into the country.

Of these, 179 were fisherfolk from Gujarat who had accidentally crossed the
invisible line in the sea that divides India from Pakistan. But as Sunday
Times sat down to listen to their stories, expecting tales of terror and
torture, what came out was both uplifting and heartwarming. Our prisoners
had actually come home with fond memories of their stay in Pakistan’s
prisons.

While a Karachi prison scarcely seems the place for Hindu-Muslim unity, the
fishermen spoke highly of the Pakistani inmates with whom they shared jail
space. The Pakistani convicts went out of their way to help the fishermen
adjust to life in prison. “We became one large family,” says Bharat Suda
Soma. “We were never discriminated against for being Hindu. Whenever we
needed something, like soap or buckets, the Pakistani prisoners would get
it for us.” Pakistani jailers, who gave the fishermen hope that they would
soon be out, came in for praise, too: “The jailers liked us as we were
well-behaved. They would let us go for walks in prison.”

Justice Nasir Aslam Zahid, retired Pakistan Supreme Court judge and current
chairman of the Pakistani government‘s Committee for Welfare of Prisoners,
says, “The Indian prisoners in our custody are well looked after. Someone
from our office visits them every day.” It was on Zahid’s mobile phone
that three minors released last week recall speaking to their families
while in prison. “Whenever I spoke to my mother, she would cry and ask me
when I would come home,” 16-year-old Kamlesh told this reporter after he
entered India.

The fishermen had spent between a year and 15 months in jail. Ram Singh
Shamat of Junagadh district was in prison for two years. He had no idea he
had crossed into Pakistani waters until he heard a shot fired in the air
before being captured. “I was very scared. I had no idea what was going to
happen,” he says.

Their joy at being released was, of course, tempered with grief for their
fellow fisherfolk left behind in prison. In a remarkable show of solidarity
with their brethren, the fishermen painstakingly drew up a list of 61 men -
with details of villages and talukas and dates on which they were arrested
– still in Pakistani jail. Each of the released fishermen has two
photocopies of this list which they hope to circulate amongst the media and
activists in a bid to get their friends free.

Jatin Desai, joint secretary of the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace
and Democracy, feels that fishermen should be released by sea with their
boats instead of the long route via land, from Karachi to the Wagah border
and then onwards from Amritsar to Gujarat.

While 276 Indian fishermen still remain in Pakistani prisons, 29 Pakistani
fishermen are in Indian jails. India released 121 fishermen last year.
Zahid feels there should be a bilateral committee of officials on board a
ship between the two countries, looking at cases of fishermen straying
across the border and settling the matter in the sea itself. Because no
amount of affection in a foreign jail can make up for lost time with loved
ones back home