Indians in Sri Lankan jails get hope for freedom

July 4th, 2008 - 1:11 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, July 3 (IANS) Forty-three Indians languishing in Sri Lankan jails got renewed hope of freedom when they were granted consular access Thursday as Indian officials told them that prisoner exchange formalities between the two countries would be worked out soon, said a rights body here. M.V. Namboodiri, second secretary in India’s external affairs ministry, and his colleague Thursday visited two jails at Welikada and Negambo and met the Indian prisoners there.

Agni Subramaniam, director of Manitham, a rights body here fighting the cause of the Indian prisoners, said the consulate officials met all the Indian prisoners in two of the three prisons and listed out their names and their prison identification numbers.

The officials also assured prisoners at Negambo jail, being held without convictions, that their convictions would be soon facilitated so that they know what their punishments are, he said.

They also met the Indian women prisoners, but could not meet the lone prisoner being held in Aruradhapuram prison. They also promised the Indian prisoners to recommend better food for the inmates with Sri Lankan authorities.

According to Subramaniam, the Indian officials told the prisoners that at the 15th Saarc summit to be held at Colombo in August, the countries will work out an agreement on exchange of prisoners.

The official said the paperwork for this was in the process of completion, according to the activist.

“The Indian prisoners in the Sri Lankan jails have new hope,” Subramaniam told IANS.

“They have told us they have full confidence now that the government of India will get them back to their motherland.”

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