New Delhi: Nearly 8,000 Indian prisoners, including undertrials, are lodged in various jails across 82 countries, India’s Ministry of External Affairs has informed the country’s Parliament, India Today reported.
Of them, 4058 prisoners are in the six Gulf countries and Iran, where Indians have traditionally thronged for better employment opportunities.
Quoting MEA, the report said that 267 Indian prisoners are lodged in the US and 373 in the UK Eleven countries have more than 100 Indians in their prisons.
The highest number of convicts and undertrials of Indian origin is in Saudi Arabia, with 1570 prisoners. It is followed by the United Arab Emirates, with 1292 Indian inmates. There are 460 Indians lodged in prisons in Kuwait, 439 in Qatar, 178 in Bahrain, 70 in Iran and 49 in Oman, according to MEA records.
India’s seven neighbouring countries account for 1,913 of the nearly 8,000 Indian inmates in foreign jails. The maximum are in Nepal (886), followed by Pakistan (524), China (157), Bangladesh (123), Bhutan (91), Sri Lanka (67) and Myanmar (65). Interestingly, there is no Indian prisoner in Afghanistan as per the MEA.
Two major employment and tourism destinations, Singapore and Malaysia, have 480 Indians lodged in their prisons. While Malaysia has 409 Indian inmates, Singapore has 71. The Philippines has 41 Indians lodged in their prisons, Thailand has 23 and Indonesia 20, the report said.
Australia has 62 known cases of Indians languishing in their jails, while Canada and Cyprus have 23 inmates each. There are 35 Indian prisoners in France, 22 in Greece, 24 in Maldives and 49 in Spain.
As per the report, MEA informed the Lok Sabha that 81 prisoners, including 73 Indian inmates, have been transferred to their country of nationality under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003, to serve the remainder of their sentence.
Replying to a question, the ministry said Indian Missions/Posts abroad “remain vigilant and closely monitor” the incidents of Indian nationals being put in jail in foreign countries for violation of local laws or alleged violation of local laws.
“Apart from extending them all possible consular assistance, Indian Missions and Posts also assist in providing legal aid wherever needed. Missions and Posts also maintain a local panel of lawyers where the Indian community is in sizable numbers,” the MEA said.
The ministry further said: “There is a regular process of consultation and coordination with countries concerned on the issue of repatriation of Indian nationals in foreign prisons, including in the context of bilateral agreements for Transfer of Sentenced Persons”.
It added that the government, through its Missions/Posts abroad, also takes up and pursues grant of amnesty/commutation of sentences of Indian prisoners in foreign countries.