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India on Saturday again sought consular access to its nationals Kulbhushan Jadhav, who was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court on alleged espionage charges, and Hamid Nehal Ansari, an Indian engineer and businessman who was sentenced to three years in jail for entering Pakistan.

“India again requested Pakistan to grant full and early consular access to the Indian nationals lodged in the custody of Pakistan, including Hamid Nehal Ansari and Kulbhushan Jadhav. India once again requests Pakistan for the early release and repatriation of Indian prisoners, missing Indian defence personnel and fishermen along with their boats whose nationality has been confirmed by India the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement. 

Jadhav was allegedly arrested from Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province on March 3, 2016. Pakistan claimed that the former Indian Navy officer confessed in a video that he was involved in spying and terror activities in Balochistan, a charge rejected by India. He was convicted in April by a Pakistani military court and sentenced to death. India has maintained that Jadhav was abducted from Iran, where he was pursuing his business, and passed off as a spy.

In May this year, India moved the International Court of Justice at The Hague, which then stayed the execution pending a final decision by the court. Ansari, an engineer and business professional, had gone to Kabul in Afghanistan on November 4, 2012, on a tourist visa for a job in aviation. He entered Pakistan on November 12. From his e-mail accounts, it was revealed that he was in touch with a Pakistani girl on Facebook and had gone to Pakistan, where he was arrested and sentenced to three years in jail.

According to the ministry statement, in line with an agreement signed in 2008, India and Pakistan on Saturday exchanged, through diplomatic channels simultaneously at New Delhi and Islamabad, the lists of nationals – including civil prisoners and fishermen – of each country lodged in the jails of the other country. The Agreement on Consular Access between India and Pakistan, which was signed on May 21, 2008, provides that a comprehensive list of nationals of each country lodged in the other country’s jails has to be exchanged twice each year, on January 1 and July 1. 

“India remains committed to addressing on priority all humanitarian matters with Pakistan, including those pertaining to prisoners and fishermen,” the statement said. 

“In this context, we await from Pakistan confirmation of nationality of those in India’s custody who are otherwise eligible for release and repatriation.” 

First Published | 1 July 2017 5:06 PM
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