New Delhi: As many as 8,278 Indian prisoners, including undertrials, are lodged in foreign prisons at present, with 156 of them serving life sentences, the government informed Lok Sabha on Friday.
In response to a written question in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said that due to strong privacy laws prevailing in many countries, the local authorities do not share information on prisoners unless the person concerned consents to the disclosure of such information.
Even countries which share information do not generally provide detailed information about the foreigners imprisoned, he said.
“As per the information available with the ministry, the number of Indian prisoners, including undertrials, in foreign jails at present is 8,278, out of which 156 are serving life sentences,” Muraleedharan said.
The minister asserted that the government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and well-being of Indians in foreign countries, including those in prisons there.
Indian missions and posts abroad remain vigilant and closely monitor the incidents of Indian nationals being put in prisons for violation or alleged violation of local laws, he said.
The issue of repatriation of Indian nationals lodged in foreign prisons is regularly pursued by Indian missions and posts abroad with the local authorities concerned, the minister said.
The government also follows up on this issue during consular and other consultations with other countries, including in the context of bilateral agreements for transfer of sentenced persons, wherever applicable, he added.
From January 2020 till February 2022, two Indian nationals have been transferred from Sri Lanka to India, one German national from India to Germany and two Bangladeshi nationals from India to Bangladesh under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003 to serve the remainder of their sentences, Muraleedharan said in response to a question on the number of prisoners exchanged by India during the last two years as well as the current year.
To a separate question on whether the government has conducted any study to identify the change in rate of foreign migration pattern among Indian citizens in the post-COVID-19 pandemic period, he said, “Yes, a study titled ‘Impact of COVID-19 on India’s International Migration’ was conducted by the India Centre for Migration (ICM), a research think tank of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), in March 2021 to analyse the impact of COVID-19 on international migration from India with a focus on GCC countries.”
According to the study, 3,21,721 migrated to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain in 2018; 3,53,126 in 2019; and 78,558 in 2020. PTI