Pakistan releases 45 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture #goodnews


Press Trust of India | Posted on May 25, 2013

Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday released 45 Indian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill though confusion surrounded the move as Indian authorities in Islamabad were not informed about it.

“We have freed 45 Indian prisoners and they will be repatriated via Wagah tomorrow,” Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told a news briefing at the Foreign Office.

The prisoners, most of them fishermen, were freed from a jail in Karachi and put on a bus to take them to the eastern city of Lahore.

Pakistan releases 45 Indian fishermenThere are currently 482 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails while 496 Pakistanis are in Indian jails.

However, official sources said Pakistani authorities had not formally informed the Indian High Commission about their release till this afternoon.

The verification of the identity of several of the fishermen had not been completed while others had not completed their jail terms, the sources told PTI. Several formalities have to be completed before the fishermen can be allowed to cross over to India via the Wagah land border crossing tomorrow, the sources said.

Footage on television showed the fishermen coming out of Malir Jail in Karachi and boarding the bus. On May 7, caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso announced that Pakistan would release 51 Indian fishermen who had completed their jail terms.

The figure was subsequently revised to 49 and later, 45 prisoners were freed. India and Pakistan frequently arrest fishermen for illegally crossing the maritime boundary.

There are currently 482 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails while 496 Pakistanis are in Indian jails. When Khoso announced the release of the Indian fishermen, he expressed the hope that the Indian government would reciprocate by freeing Pakistani prisoners.

The move to release the prisoners came after Indian death row prisoner Sarabjit Singh died in Lahore on May 2 following a brutal assault within Kot Lakhpat Jail.

Following his death, Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay was assaulted in a jail in Jammu and died later in a hospital in Chandigarh.

Surviving the First Day – State of the World’s Mothers 2013 #Vaw #Womenrights


A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

From the Report……………..

“…….Each year, 3 million newborns die, making up nearly half (43 percent) of the world’s under-5 child deaths. And yet almost all newborn deaths originate from preventable and treatable causes: we already have the tools available to save about three-quarters of the newborns who needlessly die each year.

This report reveals that we know how to stop this trend, because we understand the causes and solutions of newborn death like never before. Simple lifesaving treatments like a basic antiseptic for cleansing the umbilical cord can prevent deadly infections. Antenatal steroids help premature babies breathe. “Kangaroo mother care” keeps them warm, encourages breastfeeding and protects them from infection. These inexpensive interventions haven’t taken hold, but a new analysis in this report shows that four basic solutions alone could save more than 1 million newborns annually as soon as they do. Improvements in access to contraceptives, maternal nutrition and breastfeeding practices would save even more………..”.

Melinda Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“…………This report contains our annual ranking of the best and worst places in the world for mothers – but no matter if they’re in the United States or Malawi or India, all mothers are fundamentally the same. Every night, millions of mothers around the world lean over their sleeping newborns and pray that they will be safe, happy and healthy. It’s what we all want for our children. And it’s certainly not too much to ask………..”.

Carolyn Miles, President and CEO of Save the Children USA

Key Findings……

“……In South Asia, mothers and babies die in great numbers. An estimated 423,000 babies die each year in South Asia on the day they are born, more than in any other region. South Asia accounts for 24 percent of the world’s population and 40 percent of the world’s first-day deaths. In India – where economic growth has been impressive but the benefits have been shared unequally – 309,000 babies die each year on the day they are born (29 percent of the global total). Bangladesh and Pakistan also have very large numbers of first-day deaths (28,000 and 60,000 per year, respectively.) Mothers in South Asia also die in large numbers. Each year, 83,000 women in South Asia die during pregnancy or childbirth. India has more maternal deaths than any other country in the world (56,000 per year). Pakistan also has a large number of maternal deaths (12,000). (To read more, turn to pages 27-35 and 65-74.)….”.

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“…..Babies born to mothers living in the greatest poverty face the greatest challenges to survival. At the heart of the newborn survival problem is the widening gap between the health of the world’s rich and poor. Virtually all (98 percent) newborn deaths occur in developing countries, and within many of these countries, babies born to the poorest families have a much higher risk of death compared to babies from the richest families. A new analysis of 50 developing countries found babies born to mothers in the poorest fifth of the population were on average 40 percent more likely to die compared to those in the richest fifth. Disparities within countries like Bolivia, Cambodia, India, Sierra Leone, Morocco, Mozambique and the Philippines are especially dramatic. Many newborn lives could be saved by ensuring services reach the poorest families in developing countries. For example: If all newborns in India experienced the same survival rates as newborns from the richest Indian families, nearly 360,000 more babies would survive each year. Closing the equity gaps in Pakistan and Democratic Republic of the Congo would similarly save the lives of 48,000 and 45,000 newborns each year, respectively. (To read more, turn to pages 15-21.)….”.

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Recommendations…………..

1. Address the underlying causes of newborn mortality, especially gender inequality.

2) Invest in health workers – especially those working on the front lines – to reach the most vulnerable mothers and babies.

3) Invest in low-cost, low-tech solutions which health workers can use to save lives during pregnancy, at birth and immediately after birth.

4) Strengthen health systems and address demand-related barriers to access and use of health services.

5) Increase commitments and funding to save the lives of mothers and newborns.

 

Access the full report at:

http://www.savethechildrenweb.org/SOWM-2013/files/assets/common/downloads/State%20of%20the%20WorldOWM-2013.pdf

 

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan’s milestone election


Reuters | May 11, 2013,

Bomb blasts cast shadow over Pakistan's milestone election
A woman voter holds her ballot paper and stamp while moving to a polling booth inside a polling station in Karachi on May 11, 2013.
ISLAMABAD: A string of militant attacks cast a long shadow over Pakistan‘s general election on Saturday, but millions still turned out to vote in a landmark test of the troubled country’s democracy.

The poll, in which some 86 million people are eligible to vote, will bring the first transition between civilian governments in a country ruled by the military for more than half of its turbulent history.

A bomb attack on the office of the Awami National Party (ANP) in the commercial capital, Karachi, killed 11 people and wounded 35. At least two were wounded in a pair of blasts that followed and media reported gunfire in the city.

An explosion destroyed an ANP office in the northwest. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Television channels also reported an explosion in the city of Peshawar.

Pakistan’s Taliban, who are close to al-Qaida, have killed more than 120 people in election-related violence since April. The group, which is fighting to topple the US-backed government, regards the elections as un-Islamic.

The Taliban have focused their anger on secular-leaning parties like the ruling coalition led by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ANP. Many candidates, fearful of being assassinated, avoided open campaigning before the election.

The people of Pakistan hope the polls will deliver change and ease frustrations with the Taliban, a frail economy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure.

Disenchantment with the two mainstream parties appears to have brought a late surge of support for former cricket star Imran Khan, who could end up holding the balance of power.

Khan, 60, is in hospital after injuring himself in a fall at a party rally, which may also win him sympathy votes.

Results from nearly 70,000 polling stations nationwide are expected to start tricking in from around 10pm (1700 GMT).

“The problems facing the new government will be immense, and this may be the last chance that the country’s existing elites have to solve them,” said Anatol Lieven, a professor at King’s College, London, and author of a book on Pakistan.

“If the lives of ordinary Pakistanis are not significantly improved over the next five years, a return to authoritarian solutions remains a possibility,” Lieven wrote in a column in the Financial Times.

The army stayed out of politics during the five years of the last government, but it still sets the nuclear-armed country’s foreign and security policy and will steer the thorny relationship with Washington as NATO troops withdraw from neighbouring Afghanistan next year.

With no clear-cut winner, weeks of haggling to form a coalition will follow, which would raise the risk that the government is undermined by instability.

That would only make it more difficult to reverse the disgust with politicians felt among the country’s 180 million people and drive through the reforms needed to revive its near-failed economy.

Power cuts can last more than 10 hours a day in some places, crippling key industries like textiles, and a new International Monetary Fund bailout may be needed soon.

The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif looks set to win the most seats in the one-day vote. But Khan could deprive Sharif of a majority and dash his hopes for a return to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, jailed and later exiled.

Pakistan’s best-known sportsman, who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days, Khan is seen by many as a refreshing change from the dynastic politicians who long relied on a patronage system to win votes and are often accused of corruption.

Late surge for Imran Khan

Voters will elect 272 members of the National Assembly and to win a simple majority, a party would have to take 137 seats.

However, the election is complicated by the fact that a further 70 seats, most reserved for women and members of non- Muslim minorities, are allocated to parties on the basis of their performance in the contested constituencies. To have a majority of the total of 342, a party would need 172.

Khan appeals mostly to young, urban voters because of his calls for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil. About one-third of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

Early opinion polls had put the share of votes for Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) party as low as single figures. However, a survey released on Wednesday showed nearly 25 percent of voters nationally planned to vote for his party, just a whisker behind Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

The Herald magazine poll showed Sharif’s party remained the front-runner in Punjab, which, with the largest share of parliamentary seats, usually dictates the outcome of elections.

It also pointed to an upset for the PPP, placing it third. Pakistan’s politics have long been dominated by the PML-N and the PPP, whose most prominent figure is President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto.

“The PPP didn’t take care of the poor masses and always engages in corrupt practices whenever they come to power,” said Sher Nabi, a banker from Peshawar.

“So we’ve decided to vote for the PTI candidate this time and test Imran Khan to see if he proves as honest as he claims.”

Pakistan, which prides itself on its democratic credentials, ordered the New York Times bureau chief in Islamabad to leave the country on the eve of the polls, the daily said on Friday.

A two-sentence letter was delivered by police officers to the home of the bureau chief, Declan Walsh, it said.

“It is informed that your visa is hereby cancelled in view of your undesirable activities,” the Times quoted the letter as saying, without explaining what was undesirable. “You are therefore advised to leave the country within 72 hours.”

 

 

India – Ignoring Custodial Deaths #Prisons


political-prisoner

Vol – XLVIII No. 19, May 11, 2013 | Rebecca Gonsalvez and Vijay Hiremath
EPW

There is justifiable anguish over the killing of Sarabjit Singh in a Pakistani jail but what about the thousands of deaths in police and judicial custody in India? Torture is common and rampant in police custody and deaths in so-called police encounters are routinely reported. Politicians and the media are demanding justice for Sarabjit. When will the Indian government hold the police and jail officials responsible for custodial deaths accountable and compensate the next of kin?

 

Rebecca Gonsalvez (rebecca.gonsalvez@gmail.com) and Vijay Hiremath (vijayhiremath@gmail.com) are human rights lawyers practising in the Bombay High Court.

The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” (Article 14 of the Constitution of India)

Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner on death row in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Pakistan died on 2 May, 2013, after being assaulted in custody making it a custodial death. Sarabjit has been proclaimed a martyr in India, his body was cremated with full state honours, a three-day state mourning was announced and the Punjab government as well as the government of India announced compensation amounts (Rs 1 crore and 25 lakhs respectively) to the next of kin. Political leaders demanded that those responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack be brought to justice. All this is commendable, of course. One only wishes that the Indian government would act just as swiftly in every case of custodial death in our country.

According to the report of the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), “Torture in India 2011”, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) recorded a total of 14,231 deaths in custody in India between 2001 and 2010, which includes about 1,504 deaths in police custody and about 12,727 deaths in judicial custody. The ACHR report observes that these are only the cases reported to the NHRC, and do not include all cases of custodial deaths. The report attributes the deaths in custody to torture, denial of medical facilities and inhuman prison conditions. Once a person is taken into custody, the responsibility for his/her life, health and safety rests with the authorities in whose custody he or she is, be it the police or the jail authorities.

However, so far, the government has hardly ever immediately accepted responsibility for the deaths in custody, nor has it announced compensation in such cases particularly of such large amounts as promised to Sarabjit’s kin, or taken measures to speedily prosecute the officials responsible for the deaths. Yet the very same politicians are demanding on Sarabjit’s behalf what they do not willingly give to their own citizens. Nor has the government or the opposition ever expressed any kind of outrage for the deaths of the 14,231 people in custody in India between 2001 and 2010. The media, especially television channels, termed the custodial death of Sarabjit an act of butchery, referring to his assailants as “Pak butchers”, but do not show the same passion for justice when it comes to Indian custodial deaths.

Roll Call of Dishonour

What about the police officials in whose custody arrestees die in India? What about the people regularly killed in “encounters” with the police or the army? What about Sohrabuddin, Kauserbi and Ishrat Jehan? When will those responsible for their deaths be held accountable and punished for these reprehensible acts? When will their families be compensated for their losses? Their families are regularly denied basic documents relating to their deaths, such as the post-mortem report. Most of these cases are deemed suicides. In the case of encounters, it is alleged that the deceased shot at the police/army officials involved, who somehow miraculously escape unscathed. The accused in custodial death and encounter cases are rarely prosecuted, and cases of murder are almost never registered against them. The government seldom grants sanction to prosecute the officials involved. Sarabjit is supposed to have been assaulted by fellow prisoners. What makes the cases mentioned above far worse is that they are perpetrated by the police and the army, whose responsibility it is to protect the citizens of this country from crime.

Take the case of Khwaja Yunus. The young software engineer was arrested in December 2002 by the Mumbai Crime Branch in what is commonly known as the Ghatkopar bomb blast case. He was tortured and killed in police custody, and his body was never found. Instead the police indulged in an elaborate cover-up and attempted to show that Khwaja Yunus had escaped from their custody. It was only after his father filed a petition in the Bombay High Court that the government ultimately admitted that he had died in custody and paid his family Rs three lakhs as compensation. However, though the Maharashtra State CID (Crime Investigation Department) chargesheeted 14 police officials, the government sanctioned the prosecution of only four of them. The High Court in 2011 directed the state to pay Yunus’s family Rs 20 lakhs as compensation, but did not direct the prosecution of the remaining 10 accused who had been chargesheeted. This amount was paid to his mother almost 10 years after his death. The offenders are yet to be tried and punished. Ram Singh, the bus driver, and one of the accused in the recent Delhi 16 December, 2012, gangrape case died in Tihar jail in mysterious circumstances on 11 March. Some of the media reports indicated that Ram Singh was assaulted in the jail and succumbed to the injuries. No action has been taken so far against any officials or inmates for his death. Sanaullah Ranjay, a Pakistani national was assaulted with a brick by a fellow inmate in the Kot Bhalwal jail in Jammu & Kashmir on 3 May. He sustained severe head injuries, and is presently on the ventilator in the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh. What did the authorities do to protect him? What is the government doing to protect people in custody? What are the preventive measures taken? Are there medical facilities and staff in every jail in the country to provide services in emergency situations?

Sarabjit was convicted in October 1991 of espionage and for carrying out a series of bomb blasts in Lahore and Faisalabad in 1990 that killed 14 persons, and was sentenced to death. A man who in India would be termed a “terrorist” along the lines of Ajmal Kasab the Pakistani national who was convicted in the terror attack which occurred in Mumbai on 26 November, 2008, and was executed on 21 November, 2012, or Afzal Guru the Kashmiri who was convicted in the Parliament attack case and was executed on 9 Februrary, 2013. Both Kasab and Guru were executed in secrecy, and not permitted to meet their families prior to execution. Their bodies were not returned to their families for the last rites/funeral. However, elaborate measures were taken by the government of India to ensure the speedy and safe return of Sarabjit’s remains. He was given a funeral with state honours! Why the discrimination? Why the double standards?

Torture in Police Custody

India signed the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in 1997 but is yet to ratify it. A toothless Prevention of Torture Bill is pending before the Parliament, and there is very little hope that it will be passed within the tenure of this government. While there are jail manuals in many states, (besides the model jail manual) which state how prisoners are to be treated and what they are entitled to in prisons, there are absolutely no rules regarding the treatment of inmates in police custody and they remain totally at the mercy of the police. Torture in various forms is rampant in police custody with the degree differing according to the crime for which the person has been arrested, his/her economic condition and social status and whether he/she has legal representation. Scientific and non-violent methods of interrogation are alien to our law enforcement agencies. The most common form of torture is depriving a person of sleep for days together. Assault is equally common, so is the threat to rape and torture the female relatives of the arrestees and use of torture to extract confessions is routine. Recent laws have made such confessions to the police admissible, making the job of the police easier. Some Supreme Court and High Court judgements, most importantly the D K Basu guidelines on arrest laid down by the Supreme Court in 1997, and now incorporated by recent amendments in the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), have created a few safeguards. However, there is need for vigilant judges to ensure the strict implementation of these guidelines and provisions. It is important to note here that the Right to Life is a fundamental right in this country, guaranteed to both foreigners and Indians alike by the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court of India held in 1974 in the case of D Bhuvan Mohan Patnaik vs State of Andhra Pradesh that prisoners are not denuded of their fundamental rights including their right to life, by mere reason of their incarceration.

Make Equal Justice a Reality

While discussing the plight of Indian prisoners in foreign jails and campaigning for better conditionsis important, there is urgent need to look at the conditions of prisoners in our own jails. While the assault on Sarabjit Singh in the Kot Lakhpat jail that ultimately resulted in his death deserves to be condemned strongly and acted upon, the same must be done in every case of custodial death and extra-judicial killing in India. Our Constitution guarantees equality andequal justice to all. That guarantee must not remain only on paper. It must become a reality.

 

Spies of Punjab, ‘shown steps of gold’


CHANDER SUTA DOGRA, The HinduFor one Sarabjit Singh, whose death brought politicians to his funeral and financial assistance for his family, the Punjab countryside is dotted with scores of men knocking on the doors of courts seeking compensation for the years many of them spent in Pakistani jails, and recognition of their services as spies for India.

Neither the government nor his family has ever acknowledged that Sarabjit — who died this week after being attacked by fellow prisoners in a Lahore jail — was a spy. Indeed, in the years before the campaign for commutation of the death sentence he received in 1991 gained momentum, none of the men who now say they were spies dared to approach the courts. Most melted back into the poverty-stricken lives they left before joining the dangerous world of espionage whose golden rule — if you are caught you are on your own — was, they claim, never disclosed to them. But Sarabjit’s saga slowly emboldened many former spies in Punjab and Jammu to file petitions, none of which have been viewed positively by the courts so far.

According to Ranjan Lakhanpal, a Chandigarh-based lawyer who has singlehandedly filed some 40 petitions of former spies in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, “The maximum relief that we have managed to get so far is a vague direction to the government to look into the matter. It has never resulted in any concrete benefit for the petitioners, most of who are penniless after spending years in Pakistani prisons. Whenever their cases are taken up in the courts, the government just refuses to acknowledge them,” he says. But they keep coming to Mr. Lakhanpal, who has in recent years become a beacon of sorts for former spies. Sooner or later, they land up at his office because he takes up their cases free of charge.

Poor families, from the border belt of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepur in particular, are the recruiting grounds for intelligence agencies like the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), military intelligence (MI) and BSF Intelligence. And Dhariwal, Daduwan, Khaira Kalan and Kang, among others, can almost be called spy villages for the number of men that are recruited from here.

Some are even recruited from across the border, as the curious case of Karamat Rahi illustrates. Originally a Pakistani national, his story is illustrative of the murky work of espionage in which penury and desperation are attractive attributes in potential recruits and borders mere lines on the ground. Karamat’s father was a Mazhabi Sikh trader in Sheikhupura who converted to Christianity after Partition. After his death, Karamat came to India in 1980 on a Pakistani passport because, as he toldThe Hindu, he “like other Christians there, was being forced to convert to Islam.”

“Once in India, I was contacted by RAW and began running covert operations and helped recruit other agents for them.” His home base in Pakistan was invaluable for the agency, till he was arrested from Lahore in 1988 and sentenced to 14 years for spying. His salary at that time was Rs.1,500 a month, and he had been assisted to settle in Gurdaspur as an Indian national. “For a year after my arrest the government paid Rs. 300 a month to my family as pension, but stopped, presuming I had died when they got no other news of me.”

Karamat stayed in prison for 18 years. It was only in March 2005, when the former Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, went to Pakistan on a goodwill visit, that he, along with some other prisoners, were freed and sent home with the delegation.

Karamat moved the High Court seeking pension and a job for his son, but got a rude shock when instead of relief, the court fined him for wasting its time. He appealed to the Supreme Court, which asked him to provide proof that he was engaged in covert activities in Pakistan. “When the agencies recruit us, we are shown steps of gold. They promise us money and security for our families, all of which are forgotten when we are arrested,” he says. Karamat’s former employers offered him a small compensation amount of Rs. 2 lakhs to keep quiet, but he is bitter and refused. “I have spent the best years of my life in jail or working for this country. Now they shun me!”

There are many others. Kashmir Singh was working for MI when he was sentenced to death by a Pakistani court for spying in 1976. His sentence was stayed, but he remained in jail. In 2007, Pakistan human rights activist Ansar Burney discovered him in a Lahore prison and used his good offices to secure a presidential pardon for the Indian spy. When Kashmir Singh returned home after 34 years in 2008, he had converted to Islam and called himself Mohammed Ibrahim. Though the Punjab government gave him a plot of land and some money, his deepest hurt is over the abandonment by his former employer.

The petition of Balbir Singh of Amritsar in the High Court states that he worked for RAW between 1971 and 1974 and, after serving a lengthy sentence in Pakistan, he was freed in 1986. All that he wanted was that the period spent in jail should be treated as duty and he or his son be absorbed into service. Just before he died last year, he received a reply to an RTI application that he had moved, asking the government about the service benefits due to him. He was informed that since he was employed by RAW, his application has been moved to the cabinet secretariat for necessary action. His son is following the case in the court now.

Following Sarabjit’s death, former spies from Punjab and Jammu are now joining hands to renew their struggle for recognition and dues. “It is unfortunate how the government uses poor, gullible men like us, who are made to believe that we are actually serving the nation. As you can see, it is an illusion that gets shattered as soon as we are apprehended”, says Karamat. He admits though, that this has not deterred many more from joining the ranks that he has left.

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

 

PressRelease- Joint Statement by Indians and Pakistanis on the Sad Demise of Sarabjit Singh


We the citizens of India and Pakistan are pained by the sad demise of Mr. Sarabjit Singh as a result of a dastardly attack on him in the Kot Lakhpat jail in Lahore, Pakistan by some inmates on 26th April 2013. We express our deep and heartfelt condolences for the family of the deceased.

Given the statements by most Indian prisoners in Pakistan jails of good and humane treatment, this unusual and inexplicable attack on Sarabjit Singh and the allegations of torture in the recent death of Chamel Singh in Pakistan jail indicate some conspiracy by vested interests to destabilize relations between India and Pakistan that were showing marked improvement in recent times. Hence we demand a thorough and complete investigation under the supervision of the UN or any independent international body.

Prisoners any where are the responsibility of the governments and the Government of Pakistan should immediately take strict and exemplary actions against all those responsible for the attack as well as the planners and conspirators. Pakistan and India should especially ensure that all steps are taken for complete protection and safeguarding all human rights of the prisoners of other country in their jails.

 

India               

  1. Mahesh Bhatt- Mumbai
  2. Mazher Hussain- Hyderabad
  3. Ram Punyani- Mumbai
  4. Jatin Desai- Mumbai
  5. John Dayal- Delhi
  6. Javed Anand- Mumbai
  7. Jamal kidwai- New Delhi
  8. Kamayani Bali Mahabal- Mumbai
  9. Varsha Rajan Berry- Mumbai
  10. Sandeep Panday- Lucknow
  11. Feroz Mithiborewala- Mumbai
  12. Hasan Mansoor- Bangalore
  13. Vijayan MJ- Delhi
  14. Haris Kidwai- Delhi
  15. Ramesh Jadav- Amritsar
  16. Mohammed Turab- Hyderabad

Pakistan

  1. Mohammad Tahseen – Lahore
  2. Abbas Ali Siddiqui- Lahore
  3. Dr. A. H. Nayyar, Pakistan Peace Coalition
  4. Dr. Tipu Sultan, Pakistan Medical Association
  5. Qazi Javed, Forum for Secular Pakistan
  6. Zulfiqar Halepoto, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Sindh
  7. Syed Zulfiqar Ali Shah,  PILER
  8. Miss Zeeenia Shoukat PILER
  9. B.M.Kutty, Pakistan Peace Coalition
  10. Dr. Haroon Ahmed, Forum for Secular Pakistan
  11. Ms. Sheema Kermani, Tehreek-e-Niswan
  12. Karamat Ali, PILER
  13. Muhammad Yaqoob, Takhleeq Foundation
  14. Syed Muhammad Ali Shah, Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum(PFF)
  15. Dr. Ali Ercelan, PFF
  16. Shamsuddin, PIPFPD and HRCP
  17. Mir Zulfiqar Ali, Joint Action Committe, Karachi
  18. Ms. Farhat Perveen, NOW Community, Karachi

Related articles

Sarabjit Singh dies, Pakistan to hand over his body to India


PTI | May 2, 2013,

Pak to return Sarabjit's body after postmortem

Pak to return Sarabjit’s body after postmortem

LAHORE/ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thurday said the body of Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh, who died in a Lahore hospital after a brutal assault in jail, will be handed over to Indian authorities after “the early completion of all formalities”.

The Pakistan government will continue to facilitate the “early completion of all formalities and hand over the mortal remains of the prisoner to the Indian High Commission at the earliest possible”, said a statement from the Pakistan Foreign Office.

The body of 49-year-old Sarabjit was moved to the mortuary of Jinnah Hospital in Lahore shortly after he died of cardiac arrest at around 1am. (1:30am IST)

He had been comatose since Friday, when he was attacked by six other prisoners within his barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail.

The Foreign Office said the Pakistan government had been providing “all assistance to the family of Sarabjit Singh as well as to the Indian authorities since the occurrence of this unfortunate incident”.

The statement said Sarabjit had died of cardiac arrest despite being “provided the best treatment available” and the staff of Jinnah Hospital working round the clock to save his life.

Pakistan’s foreign secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani was quoted by the media as saying that the body would be “expeditiously” handed over to India after completing necessary formalities.

Official sources in Islamabad and Lahore said an autopsy and other formalities will have to be completed before handing over the body. A medical board will oversee the autopsy.

The Indian High Commission was in touch with both the federal and Punjab governments on the issue, the sources said.

Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal, who is in Lahore, is expected to meet Punjab caretaker chief minister Najam Sethi this afternoon.

Sarabjit sustained severe injuries when at least six prisoners attacked him in a barrack at Kot Lakhpat Jail on Friday, hitting him on the head with bricks.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed sadness over Sarabjit’s death, saying criminals responsible for the barbaric and murderous attack on the Indian national must be brought to justice.

Sarabjit was convicted of alleged involvement in a string of bomb attacks in Punjab province that killed 14 people in 1990 and spent about 22 years in Pakistani prisons.

His family says he was the victim of mistaken identity and had inadvertently strayed across the border in an inebriated state.

Sarabjit’s mercy petitions were rejected by the courts and former President Pervez Musharraf.

The previous Pakistan People’s Party-led government put off Sarabjit’s execution for an indefinite period in 2008.

The official sources in Lahore had yesterday said Sarabjit had slipped into a “non-reversible” coma and this could lead to “brain death”.

His measurements on the Glasgow Coma Scale, which indicates the levels of consciousness and damage to a person’s central nervous system, had dropped to a “critical level”, the sources said.

Police have booked two death row prisoners, Amer Aftab and Mudassar, for the attack on Sarabjit. They reportedly told investigators that they had attacked Sarabjit because he had allegedly carried out bomb attacks in Lahore.

No action has been taken so far against officials of the jail for failing to provide adequate security to Sarabjit.

Following the rapid deterioration in Sarabjit’s condition, New Delhi had requested that he be immediately released so that he could be treated in India or a third country.

Sarabjit should be declared a martyr: Family

The family of Sarabjit Singh, Indian prisoner who succumbed to injuries after being brutally assaulted in a Lahore jail, has demanded that his body be handed over to them and he should be declared a “martyr”.

The family has set forth demand to the Union home ministry including that Sarabjit’s body be cremated with full state honours, Raj Kumar Verka, vice chairman of National Commission for Scheduled Castes, told PTI.

They have also demanded that the Centre take full responsibility of the family, Verka said.

The government will hold a meeting today to consider the demands of Sarabjit’s family, he added.

Verka said Sarabjit’s family members, who are with him at his New Delhi residence, are in a state of shock after receiving the news of his death.

He said he has forwarded the demands to the Union home ministry and is in touch with the Central leaders, including home minister Sushilkumar Shinde himself.

 

Bangladesh SC uphold death penalty to 2 army officers


30 April 2013

Press Trust of India

DHAKA, 30 APRIL: Bangladesh‘s Supreme Court today upheld the death sentences of two fugitive junior military officers awarded by a local court for killing four top national leaders, including the then acting president Syed Nazrul Islam, inside the Dhaka Central Jail in 1975.

“The appeal is allowed,” ruled Chief Justice Mozammel Huq, who headed a six-member Bench of the Appellate Division, turning down the 2008 High Court judgment in this case.

The High Court had acquitted sacked junior commissioned officers Marfat Ali Shah and Abdul Hashem Mridha in 2008. The state attorneys submitted a petition challenging the acquittal of several accused five months ago.

The two accused, who are on the run, are believed to be hiding in India. New Delhi has assured Dhaka of sending them back if tracked them down.

The four leaders ~ Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, AHM Qamruzzaman and Captain Mansur Ali ~ were brutally killed inside the high security Dhaka Central Jail in captivity by a group of army men.

Islam was the acting President and Ahmed performed as the Prime Minister of the then government in exile in India while two others were senior ministers of the interim administration to steer the 1971 Liberation War in absence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who was in captivity in Pakistan at that time.

They were gunned down inside their prison cells by a group of army personnel months after the killing of Sheikh Mujib along with most of his family members in August 1975.

The post coup administration installed by the putsch leaders had put them behind the bar as they declined to support the “illegitimate government” and eventually killed just ahead of a counter-coup that ousted the August plotters.

The then self-proclaimed president Khandker Mushtaq Ahmed, however, had constituted visibly a “show case” enquiry commission to investigate into the carnage, though prosecution evidence suggested he himself had ordered the assassins entry inside the prison to kill the four leaders.

The SC, however, ordered immediate surrender of two absconding army officers as it allowed government to file the appeal more than three years ago.

The Metropolitan Sessions Judge’s court in October, 2004, originally sentenced to death three fugitive former military personnel and life term to 12 others for the jail massacre while it had acquitted four politicians and another former military officer.

Several of the suspects of the jail killings, however, were convicted and already executed under a separate judgment in Bangabandhu Murder Trial four years ago.

But the family members and the prosecution lawyers were not satisfied even with the lower court verdict in the jail killing trial as the belated trial began in 1996 alongside the Bangabandhu Murder Case. The two trials began simultaneously after Awami League‘s returned to power in 1996 general election after 21 years of political wilderness and scrapped an infamous indemnity law, which until then protected the killers from justice.

Memorandum to India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners


MEMORANDUM

indopak

The Hon’ble Members,

IndiaPakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners

Respected Members,

Greetings from Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy, India Chapter!

We are writing to you expressing our concerns on the issues concerning Indian and Pakistani prisoners. At the outset, we want to communicate our appreciation for the initiatives of the Judicial Committee and the prisoners visits organised. We are also thankful to the Judicial Committee for the recommendations you have made to the governments in the past.

We appreciate that the committee has been doing excellent work within its limitations since its inception in January 2007. The joint recommendations of the committee have been appreciated by both the governments and we hope they will address these recommendations with sincerity and willingness. We are happy to share that PIPFPD along with the National Fishworkers’ Forum (India) and the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum has been consistently demanding the governments to implement the recommendations made by the Judicial Committee.

We would like to place our demands (on prisoners in general) for the consideration of the JC:

  • Prisoners involved in minor offences like crossing the border inadvertently & visa violations need to be treated with compassion and the committee should recommend their release.
  • In case of a death of a prisoner his/her body should be handed over to his/her family in 3-4 days time. There are cases where dead bodies were handed over after 25-30 days. Also, a copy of Post Mortem Report should be given to the respective High Commission, so that rumours and speculations that can hamper te spirit of peace are put to rest.

We would also like to bring to your notice the issue of arrest of fisher people belonging to India and Pakistan.

The recent upsurge in the arrest of fishermen and confiscation of their boats since January 2013 has created panic in the coastal areas of Gujarat and Diu. Fishermen are afraid of going to sea to catch fish and this has had adverse effects on the economy and livelihood of the poor workers.

According to our information there are around 300 Indian fishermen in Pakistan’s Malir prison and about 100 Pakistani fishermen in various prisons of India. Also, about 765 Indian boats and over 200 Pakistani boats are rusting in Karachi and Gujarat harbours. These boats are owned by fishermen and are their only source of livelihood.

We appreciate the recommendations given by the Judicial Committee as on January 27, 2012 after visiting Indian prisons and meeting Pakistani prisoners, wherein the recommendations for mechanisms for release of inadvertent crossers and their boats where release at sea was given priority.

We request you to continue to address the issue of arrested fishers from a humanitarian perspective. We request the Judicial Committee to consider and recommend the following:

  • All Indian and Pakistani fishermen should be released and repatriated immediately and unconditionally along with their boats.
  • We demand for a “No Arrest Policy” for fishworkers, which would be a significant Confidence Building Measure.
  • We request that a computerized identity card along with a permit to do fishing be provided to each fisherman in order to speed up the verification process. Presently, due to lack of identity fishermen are languishing behind the bars for many years despite the fact that the maximum sentence awarded to them is six months imprisonment.
  • Both the countries must release all fishing boats, confiscated at the time of arrest of fishermen. In the past whenever, the fishermen were released, their boats were also released along with them, but that process has been suspended and now a large number of boats are kept confiscated despite the fishermen being released. We demand that the old system should be revived.
  • Constitute a high-level working group involving the representatives from the fisherfolk community to monitor and prevent the arrest of fishermen and confiscation of the boats.
  • In the long run, an Economic Cooperation Agreement between India and Pakistan is a requirement that needs to be addressed at the earliest since we are already faced with a situation of depletion of marine resources. A technical solution like a joint fishing zone is an option that would be beneficial to the fishing communities on both sides.

We are hopeful that you will consider the demands from PIPFPD, endorsed by the fisherpeople’s organisations of India and Pakistan and take necessary steps to prevent the misery of the fishing communities. We also hope the Judicial Committee will engage with all sincerity in getting the other innocent prisoners released, without bureaucratic delays.

Yours sincerely,

Ved Bhasin                                          E. Deenadayalan                                 Jatin Desai

Co-Chairperson                                    Secretary                                      Joint Secretary

                                                                                          (09869077718)

 

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