As many as 516 fishermen, who are Indian or believed to be Indian, are languishing in various jails in Pakistan, the government informed Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Replying to a written question in the Lok Sabha, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said a total of 57 Indian prisoners are lodged in Pakistani jails out of which Pakistan is yet to issue a formal confirmation about presence of three Indian inmates.
She said that three Indian civil prisoners and eight Indian fishermen have died in custody of Pakistani authorities between 2013 and 2015. One Indian civil prisoner and two fishermen have died in the current year.
Civil prisoner Sarabjit Singh was attacked by fellow inmates in Lahore Central jail on April 26, 2013 and died a week later. Swaraj said that report of his autopsy conducted by Pakistani authorities mentioned ‘ante-mortem wounds’.
‘Ante-mortem wounds’ means injuries sustained before death. In case of civil prisoner Chambail Singh, who died on January 15, 2013, there were reports that the death was due to beating in Central Jail in Lahore.
Swaraj said that viscera of both Sarabjit and Chambail were sent for further forensic examination. The Minister said that as of July 1, 270 Pakistani civil prisoners and 37 Pakistani fishermen are in Indian jails.
She also said that Pakistan government does not acknowledge the presence of 74 Indian Missing Defence Personnel, including 54 Prisoners of War.
“As per information available with the government, 516 fishermen, who are Indian or believed to be Indian are currently in the custody of Pakistani authorities.
“Out of these, formal confirmation of the presence of 55 fishermen apprehended in the past few months by Pakistani authorities, is yet to be received from Government of Pakistan,” she said.
Replying to a separate question, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh told Lok Sabha that envoys of 28 countries were briefed by the government on the surgical strike.
Separately, important opinion makers, think tanks and foreign media were also briefed by the foreign secretary about it.
He said instructions were issued to Indian missions across the world to brief their host governments on the issue at senior levels.
“The government has kept the international community aware of the nature of counter-terror operations of September 29 and sensitised them about the extent and intensity of the persistent threat of cross-border terrorism emanating from Pakistan,” he said.