An Indian woman prisoner in Pakistan has presented Mumbai Police with a unique challenge. The woman, who has given her name as Gulo Jan, and her address confoundingly as “Jalindhar” in Mumbai, is mentally ill, and has been unable to give a more detailed address. The government needs to verify her nationality before accepting her as an Indian. To Mumbai Police has fallen the task, akin to finding a needle in a haystack, of tracking down any family that she may have in this city.
The only other clues that the police have are a photograph of her, and some details gleaned by Indian officials during consular access: her parents are Raj Kumar and Yasmeen; she has four sisters and three brothers; she has two sons and two daughters, and to add to the confusion, she has also given her husband’s name as “Jalindher”.
“We are not even sure whether the details that we have been asked to work on are reliable but we are still working on the inputs. After we received the letter we first tried to get the location with the help of Google maps, but we couldn’t find ‘Jalindhar’ anywhere in Mumbai. It was just Jalandhar which we could find and that too in Punjab,” said an officer.
Like Gulo Jan, there are 31 other mentally ill Indians in Pakistani jails, whose nationality the Indian mission in Islamabad is trying to verify. The High Commission has put up the details of 26 of these persons along with the details they have given about themselves. Last December, it also wrote to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting for help from state governments.
The letter dated December 28, 2018, was received by the Ministry of Home Affairs on January 8, 2019, which in turn forwarded it to state governments. “There are 32-believed-to-be-Indian-nationals lodged in jails of Pakistan who are mentally unsound. The details of their consular access as received from the Indian High Commission in Islamabad are enclosed herewith,” said the letter.
In Mumbai, I-unit in the Special Branch of Mumbai Police were assigned the job of locating Gulo Jan’s family. After receiving the request on January 19, police officials say they have approached 94 police station across Mumbai for any information they can get about Gulo Jan.
“We are also trying to find out whether any missing complaint was registered with any police station across Mumbai,” said an officer.
The details about Gulo Jan on the Indian High Commission’s website, however, do not match the details received by the Mumbai Police. On the website, she is said to be from Delhi/Haryana, married to Nandraj, and the daughter of Chommu and Gayatri.
A senior official in the Indian government said it was an “ongoing process”. All Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails are “presumed to be Indian” based on consular access data but their nationality has to be confirmed through address verification in India. While it is a long process in the normal course, and is known to take months or even years for each individual prisoner, in the case of mentally ill people it becomes all the more difficult.