KOCHI: Come July, Abdul Qadir, a native of Balochistan province in Pakistan, will be completing two years of incarceration in Kerala. He was a crew member of the Iranian fishing vessel intercepted by the Indian Coast Guard off Alappuzha coast in July, 2015. The vessel had 11 Iranians and one Pakistani as crew members. The crew members were detained and a satellite communication set was seized from the vessel.
In March 2016, Qadir and the 11 Iranians were acquitted by the court. While the Iranians were repatriated within a week, Qadir was made to languish in the jail for no fault of his own. The Embassy of Iran had issued emergency travel documents for their citizen.
According to the prison authorities, though the India Government had made several attempts for repatriation, the snail pace of procedure on the part of Pakistan Embassy was delaying Qadir’s release.
Recently he had approached the NIA Court seeking to expedite the proceedings for his release. The NIA Court had asked the Foreigner Regional Registration Office (FRRO) to file a status report regarding the steps taken to release Qadir. The FRRO was entrusted with the task of completing the repatriation proceedings.
“He was shifted to Viyyur Central Prison from Ernakulam District Jail last month. Though he was acquitted by the court, Qadir was made to stay in prison due to procedural delay. The Pakistan Embassy was yet to confirm his citizenship. He will continue to be a detenu of the state until Pakistan Government completes the procedure,” said a prison officer.
The NIA had filed a report before the court stating Qadir was not a prisoner and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had to initiate steps for his repatriation. An NIA officer told Express the Pakistan Embassy had initiated steps to confirm Qadir’s citizenship. “We have information the Pakistan Embassy has started proceedings to get Qadir released. But the MEA says they are yet to get confirmation regarding the proceedings. We have made several attempts to communicate with the Pakistani authorities regarding Qadir’s release,” he said.
The prison authorities said Qadir was eagerly waiting for his release and was working for the Prison Manufacturing Unit. “He knows Hindi and communicates with fellow prisoners. But he misses his family and is eagerly waiting to return home,” an officer at Viyyur Jail said.