Source: Wikimedia Commons
According to the data available with the Indian government, 7,620 Indian nationals are lodged in 86 foreign jails, of which the highest number is concentrated in Saudi Arabia. The Gulf country accounts for 56 per cent of Indian nationals who are imprisoned abroad, of which 2,084 face charges of financial fraud, burglary and bribery. A large number of them have also been arrested for drinking and selling alcohol, which is illegal in Saudi Arabia.
Of the 7,620 Indian nationals in foreign jails, at least 50 are women. Most of these women are in prisons in countries such as Sri Lanka, China, Nepal, the US and UK, besides the Gulf nations. The data was shared by MJ Akbar, the Minister of State for External Affairs, in response to a question raised in Lok Sabha on August 9. He added that due to strong privacy laws, local authorities in many countries do not share information on prisoners without getting explicit consent from them. Akbar added that the government had received 170 applications for repatriation, of which 61 prisoners have been repatriated from foreign prisons since the enactment of the Prisoners Act 2003.
About 500 nationals are lodged in South East Asian countries, most of whom were charged with offences related to drug trafficking, immigration violations and human trafficking. In Pakistan prisons, 500 of the 546 Indian nationals are fishermen. They have also landed in jails in Sri Lanka after they inadvertently cross the maritime border — an issue former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha frequently took up with the Union government . Prisoners from Tamil Nadu are housed in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Brunei and Ethiopia as well.
In countries like Australia and Canada, 115 prisoners are Indian who have been charged with offences related to murder, sexual assault, money laundering and road accidents. Germany, Italy, Greece and France did not provide details of Indian nationals in their prisons.
India has signed treaties with 30 countries under which prisoners from the country have been brought back. Also, under the Inter American Convention, which India has ratified, the country can receive and send requests to member nations for release of prisoners.