What steps for release of Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails: Delhi court

March 1st, 2009 - 5:01 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 1 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has asked the central government what steps it was taking to secure the release of Indian prisoners who have been languishing in Pakistani jails for over 25 years.
The court issued notice last week on the release of 13 such prisoners including that of Sarabjit Singh who is awaiting death sentence in a Pakistani jail for alleged involvement in the 1990 serial bomb blasts in Lahore and Multan.

The petition was filed by a Gujarat-based human rights activist Madangopal Khushiram claiming that these people, convicted on charges of espionage, have been in jail for periods as long as 25 years but the government has not taken steps for their speedy release.

Justice S. Ravindra Bhat issued notice to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and slated the matter for further hearing on April 13.

The court also sought a response from the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), which had earlier asked the government to take steps for early release of these prisoners.

The petition filed by Madangopal alleged that the government was not taking up the issue seriously and has also ignored the hardships and agony of their family members back home.

“All government departments are taking things very lightly and they are not considering the seriousness of the matter or the hardships and agony of the family members,” the petition said.

Madangopal submitted a list of 16 prisoners, of which three people, including a convict who was sentenced to death, have been released after being in jail for 35 years.

Kashmir Singh was released last March after his case was taken up by the then caretaker Federal Minister for Human Rights Ansar Burney. Chanan Singh and Parvez Ahmed were released after languishing in jail for 20 and 15 years, respectively.

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