‘No consular access to India for Gopal Dass by Pakistan’

May 12th, 2008 - 8:56 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Pervez Musharraf

New Delhi, May 12 (IANS) The Union Government Monday informed the Supreme Court that Pakistan is not providing consular access to India for its alleged spy Gopal Dass, languishing in various jails of the neighbouring country since 1984. Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati apprised the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan of Pakistan’s refusal to let Indian High Commission official in Islamabad meet Dass. The court Monday took up a brief hearing on Dass’s brother’s petition aimed at securing his release.

The government’s law officer, however, told the bench that India and Pakistan have formed a joint committee to look into the cases of nationals of each lodged as prisoners in the other’s jails .

The bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice M.K. Sharma, adjourned the hearing of the case to August after the law officer informed that the government was trying its level best to secure Dass’s release from jail in Pakistan.

Dass’s brother Anand Vir of Faridkot in Punjab has moved the apex court seeking its intervention in securing his brother’s release on the basis of a letter sent to Chief Justice Balakrishnan through him.

On the basis of the letter, the Supreme Court had asked Feb 18 for the government’s response on Dass’s plea. The chief justice, without actually issuing notice to the government, had asked Solicitor General Vahanvati to respond to the petition.

Gopal Dass, who was arrested by Pakistani forces July 27, 1984 and claims to be an Indian spy, sent his letter to Chief Justice Balakrishnan Oct 10 last year from the Mianwali Jail in Pakistan’s Punjab province.

In his letter, Dass has made a fervent plea to his brother: “Dear brother, please tell the apex court judge about us and request him to ask the government why they don’t take back the Indians who have sacrificed themselves for their motherland. Are we not Indian citizens?”

Written in a mix of Hindi and Urdu, Dass goes on to ask: “Are the ministers blind or deaf? Judge sahib, please ask them why they don’t take their country’s spies back. Do we have to give them money?”

Implicating both India and Pakistan, Dass asks: “How can Indian and Pakistani ministers say that they do not indulge in espionage against each other?”

“It’s known to the entire world that both countries indulge in espionage. Every time a spy is held, it’s reported by the entire media, including the BBC.”

Dass has written that the Indian government has virtually forgotten nearly 200 prisoners like him and goes on to detail the plight of four other prisoners who, he says, completed their sentence at least five years ago, including Kashmir Singh who was freed March last by President Pervez Musharraf from Lahore’s Central Jail after spending 35 years in Pakistani jails.

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