KARACHI: An Indian fisherman named Balo passed away while being detained at the Malir prison in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi last week, a jail official confirmed on Monday, making it the third Indian inmate within a month who died in the same jail.
Fishermen from both India and Pakistan are frequently detained on charges of violating territorial waters of each other’s countries. Pakistan’s and India’s borders are not clearly defined in the Arabian Sea and many fishing boats lack the technology needed to be certain of their precise location. The fishermen often languish in jail even after serving their term, as poor diplomatic ties between the two arch-rivals mean fulfilling official requirements can take a long time.
Balo, son of Jetha, was arrested for crossing into Pakistan’s territorial waters, and subsequently sent to Malir prison in 2020. On May 22, while receiving treatment at the National Cardiovascular Diseases institute, the Indian prisoner passed away, Malir prison’s Superintendent Muhammad Arshad said.
“The body is currently being kept in Edhi cold storage,” Arshad told Arab News, adding that jail authorities were waiting for legal formalities to be completed before handing it over to his relatives.
On May 8, 50-year-old Indian fisherman Soma Deva died in the same prison after suffering from a lung and heart disease. According to jail authorities, Deva’s condition deteriorated over a period of time, adding that he was admitted to a hospital and provided treatment before he died. His death closely followed the demise of another Indian inmate Zulfiqar, who passed away in Malir prison on May 6. His death was confirmed by Faisal Edhi, chairman of the Edhi foundation, which keeps the deceased inmates’ bodies in its morgue.
Although Arshad says the hospital extends medical help to inmates inside the prison and at major hospitals, at least four Afghan nationals have also passed away during their detention in Malir prison since November 2022.
Faiz Muhammad, who arrived in Pakistan from Afghanistan to have his ailing his sister-in-law treated, passed away in Malir prison after being diagnosed with hypertension, diabetes, and depression following a severe ear infection earlier this year.
Taj Muhammad, another Afghan inmate who was detained in January 2022, died nine months later, while Afghan inmate Abdul Khalil died in December after being taken into custody in November 2022. Additionally, Wali Khan, a fourth Afghan who was arrested in November, died in late January 2023.
The alarming number of deaths have raised suspicion on how inmates are treated inside the prison and whether or not they are provided adequate treatment facilities.