Indian man reunited with family after 28 years in Pakistani jail

Kuldeep Yadav was arrested in 1994 while on 'a mission' in Pakistan and sentenced to life imprisonment

Kuldeep Kumar Yadav, left, who was imprisoned in a Pakistani jail since 1994 on espionage charges is greeted by his sister and brother after his release, at his brother's residence on the outskirts of Ahmedabad on August 27, 2022. AFP
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An Indian man has been reunited with his family after spending nearly three decades in a Pakistani jail on espionage charges.

Kuldeep Yadav, 59, was sent on "a mission” to Pakistan in 1992 but was arrested two years later and sentenced to life imprisonment by a court.

After spending 28 years in prison in Pakistan’s Lahore city, he returned to India on August 22.

He was received by officials at the Wagah-Attari land border between India and Pakistan in northern Punjab state and later taken to his home state Gujarat on August 25 where he was reunited with his siblings.

India and Pakistan have long had hostile relations and hundreds of citizens from the rival nuclear-armed countries are languishing in each other's prisons on charges of spying or simply straying into so-called enemy territory.

“I am relieved that I am back home. I was sent to Pakistan but before I could return, I was arrested … for two years, I was interrogated by various agencies," Mr Yadav told local media.

Mr Yadav accused the Indian government of ignoring its citizens held in Pakistan's jails, alleging what he called the government’s “non-co-operation” when it came to taking back their citizens who had completed their sentences.

“Whenever we requested the Pakistan government and jail authorities to release us, they'd say that the Indian government was not accepting us. When the Indian government does not accept us, then release becomes difficult," he said.

He also appealed to the Indian government to help his rehabilitation and provide compensation because he has no source of income to support himself.

“The government must pay me compensation like retired soldiers and agricultural land workers, or a pension, and give me land for a house so I can rebuild my life. At this age, no one is going to hire me,” he said.

New Delhi and Islamabad in July shared a list of civilian prisoners and fishermen in each other’s custody.

While there were 309 Pakistani civilian prisoners and 95 fishermen in Indian custody, there were 49 civilian prisoners and 633 fishermen in Pakistan.

Mr Yadav said that while he was in jail, he had met Sarabjit Singh, an Indian spy who was convicted by Pakistan for his role in bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad in 1999 that killed 14 people.

India had maintained that Singh was a farmer from Punjab who strayed across the border.

Singh was handed a death sentence but was given a presidential pardon and his sentence commuted to life imprisonment of 14 years. He had already spent 22 years in prison but was beaten to death by fellow inmates in 2013 before he was able to return to his home country.

The next day, a Pakistani prisoner was killed in similar fashion in an Indian jail in Jammu, in what many said was an act of revenge.

Updated: September 01, 2022, 1:52 PM
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