Sushma Swaraj asks envoy to help and report on Indian prisoner in Pakistan


New Delhi: External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has directed the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan to seek consular access to an Indian prisoner who was attacked at least thrice by inmates in a Peshawar jail. “I am very much disturbed to read about repeated attacks on Hamid Ansari who is detained in Peshawar jail since 2012. It is inhuman,” she said in a series of tweets.

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“I have asked our High Commissioner in Pakistan to seek Consular access to Hamid Ansari in hospital/Jail and report,” she said. Hamid Nehal Ansari was attacked twice in the Peshawar Central Prison in the last two months, Dawn online quoted his lawyer as telling a court on Thursday. The lawyer said a jail official also daily thrashed Ansari.

Jail Superintendent Masoodur Rehman, however, argued that the injuries were of minor nature and that such incidents “kept happening” in prisons. External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing here on Friday that a petition was filed in the Peshawar High Court earlier following earlier reports that Ansari was attacked in prison.

“Through our high commission in Islamabad, the government has also raised the matter of Ansari’s well-being and his early release,” he stated. He said the Pakistan government has also been asked to allow Ansari to speak to his family.

Ansari, serving a three-year term, is kept in a death cell. Rehman, in his statement in the court, said the Indian “can’t be kept in a normal barrack with other prisoners for the sake of his security”.

Ansari’s lawyer said he wanted security for his client but the jail official had refused to give any guarantee. The official had promised to shift Ansari to a hospital after the attack but this was not done. Ansari, who reportedly possessed a fake Pakistani identity card, was arrested by intelligence agencies in Kohat district in November 2012. He was convicted by a military court in February this year.

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