A septuagenarian Pakistani citizen suffering from diabetes and heart-related ailments has spent two years in Indian jails after he was convicted for inadvertently carrying counterfeit Indian currency when he entered India by Thar Express. He has remained lodged in the Jodhpur Central Jail even after completing his prison term.
The family members of Syed Mohammed Taqi Naqvi, 71, have appealed for his immediate release and repatriation to Pakistan. He had obtained Indian currency worth Rs.10, 000 from a money changer in Karachi before travelling to India to visit his relatives in Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad district.
Mr. Naqvi was arrested at Munabao customs check-post in the Barmer district of Rajasthan on March 13, 2010 and charged under the Customs Act and Section 489-C (possession of forged currency notes) of the Indian Penal Code.
The special court for economic offences in Jodhpur sentenced him to two years in prison and slapped a fine of Rs. 500, while the special court for counterfeit currency cases in Jaipur handed him an identical jail sentence along with a penalty of Rs. 2,000.
Mr. Naqvi’s son, S.M. Naqi Shah, told The Hindu over telephone from Khairpur Mirs in Sindh province of Pakistan on Tuesday that his father, imprisoned in the Jodhpur Central Jail even after the completion of his term, is frequently shifted to hospitals for treatment of diseases. “He is an aged person suffering from several diseases. There is no one in India to look after him during his illness.”
During the past two years, Mr. Naqvi – a retired technician in Pakistan government-owned Water and Power Development Authority – has been shifted several times to the Jaipur Central Jail and the Tihar Jail in Delhi. He was lodged in these jails before being taken to the Sawai Man Singh Hospital in Jaipur and All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi for treatment.
Mr. Naqvi’s two prison terms ended on May 14 and June 30, respectively, this year. “Our family is passing through extremely difficult times. Even though my father was innocent, his lawyers could not prove [the fact] that he was deceived and had no intention to break the law,” said Mr. Naqi Shah.
Mr. Naqi Shah said he had met eminent Pakistani human rights activist Ansar Burney with the request to help secure his father’s release. Mr. Burney, who has taken up the case of Indian death row convict Sarabjit Singh, has visited India to mobilise support for his campaign to release prisoners wrongfully held in both countries.
Mr. Naqvi’s lawyer in the Jaipur case, Shaukat Ali, said his passport, which was impounded earlier, has been returned to him following a court order. The role of the courts was over as Mr. Naqvi had undergone full prison terms and could be released after completion of legal formalities, he added.
Jodhpur Central Jail Superintendent A. R. Niyazi told The Hindu that though Mr. Naqvi had been formally released on June 30 on the completion of his sentence, he was taken into custody immediately thereafter under Section 109 (security for good behaviour) of the Criminal Procedure Code, as he did not have visa or valid papers for his stay in India.
“He was admitted to the hospital attached to the prison. He has improved and has been shifted to the jail ward,” said Mr. Niyazi. He said he had written to the Union Home Ministry through proper channels seeking direction for further action: “We expect to get instructions from the Home Ministry very soon.”