Pakistani prisoners in Indian jail claim denial to consular services

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Two Pakistani prisoners being held in Alipore central jail and implicated by the CID in the Khadim abduction case on Monday alleged that they had been denied consular access for over a decade.

The state government has already written to the Ministry of External Affairs seeking details as it appeared improbable that there was any truth to their claim.

Indian IGP Prisons Ranveer Kumar said, “The MHA has informed us about a May 28-June 2 window to allow all Pakistani prisoners lodged in Bengal prisons to be send to Tihar for the consular access. The claims made by the two prisoners were brought to our notice. But we find it intriguing that since the two had spent a prolonged period in Tihar and were convicted, they never got consular access. We’ve written to the MHA for further information on these two prisoners. Hinging on it will depend whether we allow them to go there. Consular access is mandatory for all Pakistani prisoners lodged in Indian jails.”

The two prisoners Tariq Mahmood, 45, and Isaq Ahmed, 52, are facing trial in the Khadim abduction case. This case has already led to a life term for Aftab Ansari and four others and acquittal of 17 people by a special court in May 2009 – nearly eight years after footwear baron Partha Pratim Roy Burman’s abduction in July 23, 2001. Tariq and Isaq were in Tihar Jail facing trial in another case then. It was only in 2012, the duo were brought to Kolkata to face the Khadim abduction trial. Of the 107 witnesses, only 21 have testified so far in this case. Bikash Chandra Guchait, the state defence lawyer, representing the duo, said, “Tariq and Isaq has already moved court seeking permission for their Tihar visit. The court has allowed that. They will face trial on June 4.”
Furthermore, Guchait said, “They are Pakistani fishermen who were arrested by Mumbai police and then charged with several cases, including the Khadim abduction.”

There is a Supreme Court mandate to expedite the ongoing Khadim trial. Tariq and Isaq have spent 11 years in Indian custody already.

Guchait also pointed out that another Pakistani undertrial Arshad Khan was allowed to go to Tihar Jail for the consular access.

“From what I understand, the Pakistani consular officials try to ascertain from them on the charges for which they’ve been implicated and their Pakistani nationality claims,” he added.

The IGP, however, said, “This is done regularly. We have allowed all Pakistani prisoners consular access before and will do so. Only in these two specific claims, we need to verify facts for understandable reasons. That is what we are trying to do.”