The four-day hearing of Kulbushan Jadhav’s case opened Monday at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) headquarters in The Hague amid high tensions between India and Pakistan after the Pulwama attack in which more than 40 CRPF men were killed.
Jadhav, a former Indian Navy officer, was awarded the death sentence by a Pakistani military court under Pak Army Act-59 (PAA- 59) on charges of espionage. India has, however, maintained that Jadhav is innocent of all charges.
However, Jadhav is not the only Indian national lodged in Pakistani jail under charges of espionage. Latest data provided by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) through RTI filed by Mission Bhartiyam under Aagahaz-e-Dosti initiative shows that at least 537 Indian citizens or those believed to be Indians are languishing in Pakistani jails under various charges.
Among these, 54 are civilians charged under various acts and 483 are fishermen who had ventured into Pakistani waters inadvertently.
But the case is not one–sided. At least 347 Pakistani citizens or those believed to be Pakistani citizens, including 249 civilians charged under various acts and 98 fishermen who had crossed into Indian waters, are in Indian jails. Most of these Pakistani prisoners are charged for alleged terrorism-related activities in Jammu and Kashmir.
An analysis of the RTI replies from the MEA to Mission Bhartiyam since 2014 reveals some important details about civilians jailed in both countries.
The data shows that severe punishments were awarded to Indian prisoners under PAA-59, Foreign Act, Security of Pakistan Act and Officials Secrets Act. As per available data till July 2017, at least 11 Indian civilians were booked under PAA-59 on charges of espionage.
In India, severe punishments have been awarded to Pakistani nationals under Foreigners Act-23, Official Secret Act, Explosive Act, Arms Act, IPC Section 121 & 121 A, 120 B, 122, 123, 124 A and NDPS Act. A significant number of Pakistani nationals are also lodged in Indian jails allegedly for “residing in India without passport and visa”.
As per July 2017 data, there are 15 Pakistani civilians against whom no offence was registered, yet they were under arrest.
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