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337 Indian prisoners likely to be in Pak's custody: Govt

New Delhi: A total of 337 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, are believed to be in Pakistan's custody, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said on Wednesday in the Lok Sabha.

The neighbouring country has acknowledged the custody of 261 of them, he said.In a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha, the minister said 270 Indian fishermen have been in Pakistan's custody for less than five years. However, Pakistan has, so far acknowledged the custody of 207 Indian fishermen, Muraleedharan said. In a written reply to a separate question, the minister said India desires normal neighbourly relations with Pakistan.

"Our consistent position is that issues, if any, between India and Pakistan should be resolved bilaterally and peacefully, in an atmosphere free of terror, hostility and violence," he said. "The onus is on Pakistan to create such a conducive atmosphere, including by taking credible, verifiable and irreversible action to not allow any territory under its control to be used for cross-border terrorism against India in any manner," Muraleedharan said.

He said as a result of "persistent efforts", the Indian government has been successful in securing the release and repatriation of 2,100 Indian fishermen, from Pakistan's custody since 2014. 34 other Indian civilians have spent less than five years in Pakistan's prisons, the minister mentioned. "As per available information, 337 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, are believed to be in Pakistan's custody. "However, as per the lists exchanged between the Governments of India and Pakistan on January 1 ,2020, Pakistan has acknowledged the custody of 261 Indian prisoners, including fishermen, in its custody," he said.

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