8278 Indian prisoners in foreign jails: Ministry

The number of Indian inmates in foreign jails including under-trial prisoners amounts to 8278, out of which 156 are serving life sentences, the Ministry of External Affairs said in Lok Sabha.

The MEA was responding to the questions raised by E.T. Mohammed Basheer and Dr Alok Kumar Suman in the house seeking country-wise details of Indian prisoners, who are languishing in foreign jails for a very long period.

United Arab Emirates (1,480), Saudi Arabia (1,392), Nepal (1,112), Pakistan (701) and Qatar (473) are the top 5 countries in which the highest number of Indians are in jails, as per the information of 81 countries available with the Ministry.

Similarly, the top 5 countries in which the highest number of Indians are serving life sentences include Malaysia (47), Kuwait (28), Bahrain (13), China (13) and Oman (12).

Union Minister of State for External Affairs & Parliamentary Affairs, V. Muraleedharan stated that due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, the local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information.

It was added that even countries which share information do not generally provide detailed information about the foreigners imprisoned.

Muraleedharan said that the Government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and well-being of Indians in foreign countries, including those in foreign jails. Indian Missions / Posts abroad remain vigilant and closely monitor the incidents of Indian nationals being put in jail in foreign countries for violation/ alleged violation of local laws, he added.

He informed that the issue of repatriation of Indian nationals in foreign prisons is regularly pursued by Indian Missions and Posts abroad with the local authorities concerned.

He added that the Government also follows up on this issue during consular and other consultations with other countries, including in the context of bilateral agreements for Transfer of Sentenced Persons [TSP], wherever applicable.

Under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act(2003), two Indian nationals have been transferred from Sri Lanka to India, One German national has been transferred from India to Germany and two Bangladeshi nationals have been transferred from India to Bangladesh to serve the remainder of their sentence from January 2020 till February 2022.