KOCHI: The Centre is receiving more applications from Keralites serving jail term abroad, seeking a transfer to spend the rest of their sentence period in Indian prisons, under the Repatriation of Prisoners Act, 2003.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) data shows that of the 43 applications being processed, Kerala has the highest (12), followed by Punjab (eight), Tamil Nadu (seven) and Andhra Pradesh (six). Between 2015 and 2018, the government received 65 applications from Indians incarcerated abroad, for transfer. While 14 were transferred to India, 43 applications are being processed.
“Many non-resident Keralites living in the Middle East end up in jail for major and minor offences. Lack of proper guidance and poor language skills result in their conviction. Whenever we receive a request for repatriation, we forward it to the appropriate authority,” said NORKA-Roots CEO Harikrishnan Namboothiri K.
He said it is the task of the MHA and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to take up the application with the country where the person is serving the jail term. An MEA report presented in the Parliament exactly a year ago showed that 7,850 Indians are lodged in the prisons of 78 countries.
‘Working under a different law abroad leads to conflicts’
A majority of the sentenced Keralites are in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UK, USA, Canada, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, France, Germany, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand.
“More Keralites are moving abroad, seeking blue and white collar jobs in the Middle East and elsewhere. When you’re an expatriate and work under a different law, it can lead to conflicts with other people and land you jail,” said another officer. NORKA estimate shows that more than 48 lakh Keralites are living outside the country. A 2016 data released by the Kerala State Planning Board showed Malappuram accounted for highest number of NRKs with 18 per cent followed by Thrissur (11).