Published: Sunday, Oct 28, 2012, 8:15 IST
DNA Special
By Yogesh Pawar | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Indian techie Bhavesh Parmar’s return has highlighted the plight of Indian prisoners in Pakistan. But there are also 10,646 other Indians who’ve shared a similar plight inprisons across the globe since 2000, an RTI query by Thane resident and RTI activist Om Prakash Sharma to the ministry of external affairs has revealed. It also reveals that 29 Indians were given the death penalty in different countries during the same period for offences like drug running, theft and murder.

“If you go by figures available with international watchdog organisations, it’s clear that India has the largest number of its citizens incarcerated abroad,” Sharma told DNA. “The media glare on cases like Sarabjit Singh ensures that the government attempts to at least show that it is taking action. But other prisoners and their families struggle on their own, with no support forthcoming.”

Pakistan, with 2,372 Indians in prison, is second to the UAE, where the numbers nearly double at 4,315. Bangladesh follows with 2,008 Indians jailed, while Kuwait with 1,161 comes fourth. This is followed by China, with 673 Indian inmates, and Oman, with 429.

Incidentally, the UAE has given as many as 21 Indians the death penalty since 2000, followed by Kuwait with six death penalties, while Timor and Iran have executed one Indian each.

When asked to comment, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin defended the ministry, “The MEA extends every possible help to all Indian nationals, irrespective of where they are. There is no prioritisation on the basis of which country they’re incarcerated in.”
Sharma points out instances of how other countries go out of their way to help their nationals caught in a similar predicament.

“Look at the recent case of Italian marines who’re facing trial in India over murder charges after they shot dead two fishermen off the coast of Kerala in February this year. Their government has gone out on a limb to help them and is even using non-conventional tactics – like encouraging sporting events sponsored by Italian brands – to create sympathy for the marines.”

He lamented: “Indian authorities love to preen at the high table, calling the country an equal among superpowers. But the real acid test is how much they value they lives of their citizens. Even human rights activists, who hog the limelight when it comes to cases like Sarabjit, never speak about imprisonment of other Indians or the death penalties handed out.”

Don’t want to disturb him: Parmar’s mother
A day after 32-year-old software engineer Bhavesh Parmar reached his Vile Parle home after spending seven years in a Pakistani prison, his family is being very cautious. They have decided not to talk to him or let him talk to anyone else either, his mother Hansaben told DNA. She also said that it was too early to consult a psychiatrist and that they were going to give Bhavesh time to adjust to life back at home. pXX

10,646: Indians jailed abroad since 2000
4,315 in UAE
2,372 in Pakistan
2,008 in Bangladesh
1,161 in Kuwait
673 in China
429 in Oman