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ISLAMABAD: Amid reports of the murder of a Pakistani prisoner in an Indian jail, the Foreign Office on Wednesday asked New Delhi to ensure security of Pakistani inmates in Indian jails and Pakistani visitors to India.

“We call upon the Indian government to fulfil its obligations and ensure provision of foolproof security to all Pakistani inmates / prisoners in Indian jails and Pakistani visitors to India,” the FO said in a statement.

There are around 347 Pakistanis in Indian jails, including 249 civilians and 98 fishermen, according to the list of prisoners India shared with Pakistan on Jan 1 under the bilateral Consular Access Agreement of 2008.

The statement was issued against the backdrop of reports of the murder of a Pakistani prisoner, Shakirullah, 50, in Jaipur jail by Indian inmates. Shakirullah, who hailed from Sialkot, was serving a 20-year jail term and had completed eight years of his sentence. He had been arrested and convicted under India’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in 2011.

Pakistan’s high commission in Delhi, the FO said, had sought details (of the incident) from India’s Ministry of External Affairs. Indian authorities had been asked to authenticate the reports, it said, adding that the response was awaited.

The FO claimed that Shakirullah was beaten to death by a group of Indian inmates in retaliation to the Pulwama incident.

Indian media reports have claimed that Shakirullah was murdered after a brawl in the jail over TV volume. The prisoners were watching TV when the fight broke out. The media reports said that one of the prisoners hit Shakirullah’s head with a large brick, leading to his death on the spot. Four inmates were reportedly involved in the murder. Jail guards did not intervene on the occasion, according to one report.

The FO had a day earlier, after a protest demonstration outside Pakistan House over the Pulwama incident, asked Indian government to ensure security of its diplomatic staff.

Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2019