RTI reply - Large number of Indian prisoners in foreign countries
An application was filed with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to know the status details of Indian citizens put up in jails in foreign countries. The reply from the ministry shows that a total of 6,569 Indians are currently held in prisons in 80 different countries. The break up, given by the ministry, shows that over 50 per cent of them are held prisoners in three gulf countries only. Kuwait has 1,691 Indian prisoners in its custody while Saudi Arabia holds 1,161 and United Arab Emirates (UAE) holds 1,012 Indian prisoners.
Among the neighbours, Pakistan has 253 Indians in its jails while the numbers for China, Nepal and Sri Lanka are 157, 377 and 63 respectively. Among the developed world, United Kingdom has 426 Indian inmates, United States has 155 and Italy has 121 Indian prisoners.
The MEA stated in the reply that for 30 countries, it has ‘nil report’. However, the reply didn’t provide the details about the prisoners and the charges on which they have been held. It is estimated that most of the prisoners have been held on charges of illegal stay and violation of immigration laws. For gulf countries, one major reason could be badly formulated job contracts.
A former ambassador of India to United Nations has said that the number and duration of detention vary depending upon the length of judicial procedures and the speed of communication between local government and the Indian offices working abroad.