Ahmednagar: Thirty-two Indians are languishing in Pakistani jails even though a Lahore court ordered their immediate release as they had all served their sentences. However, it is red tape that is standing in the way of their freedom.
Aunabai Karale couldn't hold back her tears when she read letters from her husband Bhanudas, who went missing from Pune in January, 2010. But it was only in August, 2011 that his family got a letter saying he had accidentally strayed into Pakistan and was in jail there. Bhanudas, who is suffering from a mental illness finished serving his sentence for illegally entering the country way back in September, 2010.
"I'm always worried about who must be taking care of him, what condition he must be in, does he get food on time," Aunabai said.
It's not just Bhanudas. In November, 2011 the Lahore High Court observed that 74 such foreign nationals are languishing in Pakistani jails, 32 of whom are Indians. The Lahore court ordered their immediate release in a judgment that says, "Concerned authorities shall not care about the usual formalities and would not allow technicalities to impede the said process."
But nearly six months since that order, only one Indian prisoner Satinder Pal Singh has been released and the release of the others is still stuck in paperwork.
Pakistani lawyer and petitioner for Bhanudas, Awais Sheikh, said, "In fact prisoners are being used as an assist tool for political reasons and this is unfortunately happening on both sides. I have filed a petition for contempt of court and the next date of hearing is April 2."
In December, 2011, the Supreme Court of India too had slammed the country's government for keeping prisoners in jail long after they had completed their sentences. But many Indians and Pakistanis remain prisoners of red tape on both sides of the border.