Over 8,000 Indians are now imprisoned in foreign jails, with 4,389 of them being held in Gulf nations, according to Union Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Friday. In response to a question in the Lok Sabha, MoS Muraleedharan stated, ‘ the number of Indian prisoners, including under-trials, in foreign jails at the present is 8441, out of which 4,389 are lodged in jails of Gulf countries (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman)’.
While responding to a query on whether the inmates lodged in UAE jails can serve the rest of their sentence in Indian jails, MoS said that under the Agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons (TSP), which was signed on November 23, 2011, Indian nationals lodged in UAE prisons can be transferred to India to serve the remainder of their sentence and vice-versa.
‘The transfer of a sentenced person to his country of nationality under the TSP Agreement is contingent on the fulfilment of various formalities, such as the prisoner’s willingness to be transferred, the receiving and transferring country’s consent, the availability of complete documentation required for processing the request, clearance from appropriate agencies, etc. Requests for the necessary paperwork to complete the transfer of condemned individuals have been forwarded to the UAE side’, he continued. This comes after the case of the eight ex-navy officers who were arrested in Doha once more made headlines.
Arindam Bagchi, a spokeswoman for the MEA, stated on December 1 that the embassy is actively following the matter of the ex-Indian Navy personnel who were detained in Qatar and that India is routinely responding to the situation. He said that the arrested Indians are in contact with their relatives back home. ‘ We have been answering this often. The case is being vigorously pursued by our embassy. We hear that imprisoned Indians can now call their family in India on the phone; some of them have relatives who reside in Doha,’ a spokeswoman for the MEA said.
The MEA official also mentioned that certain inmates are permitted to physically see their family once a week since they have relatives in Doha. ‘ Those families are permitted to meet physically, at least once each week. We will keep providing these folks with any and all consular support we can and continue to push for more consular access. As soon as we have additional information, we’ll let you know’, said Bagchi.