The body of a fisherman from Gujarat, Kana Chauhan, who died in Pakistan’s Malir jail after being arrested for violating international water norms, has been lying at a morgue of Edhi Foundation in Karachi for the last two weeks. He was reportedly not granted consular access, as a result his nationality was never established, sources said.
The Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) mandates that an arrested or detained foreign national should be allowed access to the consulate of his country. According to the established norms, India and Pakistan grant consular access to each others’ nationals within 90 days.
Sources said Chauhan, a resident of Paldi village at Una taluka in Gir Somnath district, was never granted consular access despite completing his sentence on May 23. “His nationality was never established even as he died on July 5,” said a source.
When contacted, Gujarat Fisheries Minister Babu Bokhiria said he came to know about the incident but has no official information. “Somebody from Una called me two days ago and told about the matter. I requested the caller to send me the details. However, the caller has not got back to me till now. My office has also not received any official communication from the Centre in this regard. But, once I get basic information about him, I will write to the Cente,” he said.
The Indian chapter of NGO Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), however, confirmed that Chauhan’s body was lying in the Edhi Foundation morgue. “His sentence had got over on May 23. Neither was he repatriated when he was alive nor has his body been sent back even around two weeks after his death,” Jatin Desai, general secretary of PIPFPD said.
Desai added they were told that Chauhan had complained of chest pain before his death. “But we don’t know the exact cause of death. I have written to the Indian Deputy High Commissioner in Pakistan and requested him to complete the procedure of establishing Chauhan’s nationality and repatriate his body at the earliest,” Desai said.
Incidentally, Pakistan had repatriated 77 Indian fishermen early this month after they completed their prison terms for allegedly violating the territorial waters in Arabian Sea.