By Snehesh Alex Philip
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan today demanded an early repatriation of the body of its national who had allegedly committed suicide in a Jammu jail.
Reacting to reports that the prisoner was mentally unwell, the Foreign Office here said his family has claimed otherwise.
“I have seen Indian media reports saying he was mentally unwell. If he indeed was, should he not have been sent back for inadvertently crossing the border? Why was he put on trial?” Foreign Office spokesperson Tasnim Aslam said.
Speaking to PTI, she said, “His family has claimed that he was not mentally sick. But if we are to accept Indian version, then they will have to explain why he became mentally sick in prison?”
She said the body of the prisoner should be repatriated early.
Aslam said the Foreign Office here has asked its mission in New Delhi to submit a report.
“We have asked our High Commission in New Delhi to let us know what exactly happened and if it is a suicide what led him to do so. Our mission is in touch with the Ministry of External Affairs,” she said.
Aslam said the issue of prisoners on both side should be handled in a humanitarian way.
“After all they are humans only. What crime did this person do? Inadvertently crossed over? It is an issue which both sides should handle in a humanitarian way,” she said.
Aslam stressed that in India when a Pakistani prisoner completes his term, another case is registered against him.
“This is an issue we have raised earlier too. All prisoners who have completed their term should be sent back on humanitarian grounds,” she said.
According to Jammu police, 42-year-old Showkat Ali, hailing from Sialkot in Pakistan, ended his life on February 21 by hanging himself from an iron grille inside his barracks at the District Jail at Ambphalla.
He had been lodged in the jail since 2011, after he was booked by Arnia police.
An inquiry by a magistrate has been ordered into the alleged suicide, police said, adding that the body has been shifted to the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital for a post-mortem.
The body would be handed over to Pakistani authorities after all legal formalities are completed, they said.
As per a list exchanged on January 1 between the two countries, there are 281 Indian prisoners in Pakistan while 396 Pakistani prisoners are held in Indian jails.’