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Don't Mislead Parliament, Pakistan-India Forum Tells V.K.Singh

The Pakistan-India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) on Saturday urged union minister V.K.Singh not to "mislead Parliament" on the issue of handling prisoners of the two countries languishing in each other's jails.

The PIPFPD took serious umbrage at the minister of state for external affairs's reported statements in the parliament that as per a bilateral agreement in May 2008, India-Pakistan Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners (IPJJCP), consisting of retired judges of superior judiciary from the two countries are meeting every six months and visiting jails to ameliorate the conditions, ensure humane treatment and expeditious release of prisoners.

"However, the fact is that the IPJJCP has not met even once since more than two years and we demand this committee should be made active immediately," PIPFPD general secretary Jatin Desai told Media here on Saturday.

"We would like the governments of both India and Pakistan to specify that the work of this committee needs to be facilitated with the support of both governments and hence immediate action is required in this matter," Desai added. He said the IPJJCP was formed in 2008 and served as a crucial mechanism to ensure that the prisoners belonging to the two countries in each other's jails are ensured their rights.

On May 5, the issue of Indian fishermen arrested in different countries was raised in the Rajya Sabha and it was stated that 272 of them are in jails in four countries. They comprise 220 in Pakistan, 34 in Sri Lanka, 10 in Bangladesh and 8 in Iran.

Desai added the PIPFPD had written to External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in March on the undue delay of handing over bodies of fishermen who are prisoners and die in jails on both sides of the border. He reiterated that ideally, whenever someone dies, the body should be sent back to his/her home country in the next available flight as there is no justification in keeping them back for weeks and months and they start decomposing.

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