//Tharoor non-committal on Indians in Sri Lanka jails

Tharoor non-committal on Indians in Sri Lanka jails

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Kanthapuram A.P. Aboobacker Musliyaar, an influential leader of Kerala Muslims, Wednesday said that Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor was non-committal on the possibility of bringing back about 40 Indians in Sri Lankan prisons.  “I met Tharoor last week in Thiruvananthapuram to make a request to bring them back to our country. Tharoor said he would examine this case. He did not give me any assurance,” Musliyaar, who is in New Delhi, told IANS.

Tharoor, a former UN under secretary general, represents Thirvananthapuram constituency in the Lok Sabha.

Musliyaar said he met Tharoor in the presence of former Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy.

Indian prisoners in Sri Lanka’s jails allege that Indian officials are deaf to their pleas for release.

A spokesman for the prisoners told IANS that some of them had spent 16 years in jail and said that Indian authorities were making no efforts to get them released.

The Indian, who spoke on a borrowed mobile phone, claimed there were 43 Indians in Sri Lankan jails — 28 at Wellikade, 10 in Ngombo and five in Anuradhapura.

“All of them are arrested for drug trafficking. It is a serious crime. But spending more than 16 years in jail in another country is a matter of grave human rights violation,” Musliyaar said.

The convicts are mostly from Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

Muslim League MP E.T. Mohammed Basheer raised the matter in the Lok Sabha July 29. He urged India to hold talks with Sri Lanka.