7,620 Indians in foreign jails, highest in Saudi Arabia
Chennai: As many as 7,620 Indian nationals are lodged in foreign jails, with the highest number in Saudi Arabia.
In response to a question raised in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday, minister of state for external affairs M J Akbar said due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information.
Of the 7,620 prisoners lodged in 86 jails, at least 50 are women, shows data available with the government. Most of these women are in prisons in south-east Asia, neighbouring Sri Lanka, China and Nepal, the Gulf countries, the US and UK.
The Gulf countries account for 56% of all Indian nationals in foreign jails. The prisons in Saudi Arabia have the highest number of Indian nationals, with 2,084 of them confined on charges of financial fraud, burglary and bribery.
A number of them have also been arrested for drinking and selling alcohol in the country. It is illegal to produce, import or consume alcohol in Saudi Arabia.
In countries in south-east Asia – Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia – most of the 500 immured Indian nationals were charged with offences related to drug and human trafficking and immigration and visa violation.
In Pakistan, according to a list handed over by the government to the India envoy in Islamabad, at least 546 Indian nationals, including nearly 500 fishermen, are in Pakistani jails.
Fishermen in the southern parts of India have also entered troubled waters and landed in jails in alien soil, especially in Sri Lankan jails. Tamil Nadu prisoners were tracked in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei and Ethiopia too, The Times of India reported.
In Australia and Canada, countries that see high migration from India, 115 prisoners are Indian nationals. Most of their offences relate to murder, sexual assault, money laundering and road accidents.
Most European countries like Germany, Italy, Greece and France did not furnish details of Indian nationals in their prisons.
The minister said since the enactment of the repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003, 170 applications for repatriation had been received and 61 Indian prisoners had been repatriated from foreign prisons.
So far, India has signed treaties with 30 countries, under which Indian prisoners have been brought back. Besides this, India has also ratified the Inter American Convention by virtue of which India can receive and send requests to member countries for release of prisoners.