More than 8,000 Indians are being held in various foreign prisons, the majority of them in Gulf countries, State Minister for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan informed the Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
Responding to a query asking for details of Indians housed in various foreign prisons and the steps taken to have them released, Mr. Muraleedharan said: “According to information available from the ministry, the number of Indian prisoners, including being trials, in foreign prisons currently prisons is 8278.”
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) hosts the largest number of Indian prisoners with 1,480, closely followed by Saudi Arabia which has hosted 1,392 Indians in its prisons. Nepal hosts the third highest number of Indian prisoners, with 1,112.
The most common crimes, Indians are imprisoned for charges such as drug trafficking, murder and sexual offences.
Notably, Pakistan housed the fourth largest number of Indian prisoners, with 701 in their jails. A number of Indian fishermen, trawling the waters off the coast of Gujarat, are routinely caught and imprisoned by Pakistani agencies.
“The government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and welfare of Indians in foreign countries, including those in foreign prisons. Indian missions/posts abroad remain vigilant and are closely monitoring incidents of Indian nationals imprisoned overseas for violation/alleged violation of local laws,” said Minister of State Mr. Muraleedharan.
“Apart from providing them with all possible consular assistance, Indian missions and posts also help in providing legal aid wherever needed. Missions and posts also maintain a local panel of lawyers where the Indian community is in significant number,” he added.
“Government, through its missions/posts abroad and high level visits, also supports and pursues the granting of amnesty/commutation of sentences of Indian prisoners in foreign countries. Over the past two years, a total of 700 Indian nationals have been granted amnesty or commutation of their sentences by foreign governments,” the Minister of State said.
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