Pakistan national held at Bhuj JIC dies after complaining of breathlessness


Arab alias Arbas Misribhai Jat, a 60-year-old Pakistani national being held as a detainee at Bhuj’s Joint Interrogation Centre (JIC) after his arrest in 2013, died at a hospital at Bhuj town in Kutch district Monday following complaints of breathlessness. Officers said Jat also suffered from a mental illness. The sexagenarian is the third Pakistani national lodged at JIC to have died within a nearly two-month period.

Officers at the JIC said Jat seemed to suffer from breathlessness late Sunday evening. “He was rushed to GK General Hospital at 10.30 pm Sunday with complaints of difficulty in breathing. He died around 3 am Monday while undergoing treatment at the hospital,” police inspector MB Jani, who is in-charge of JIC, told The Indian Express Tuesday.

A native of Jumagam village at Badin in Pakistan’s Sindh province, Jat was apprehended by the Border Security Force (BSF) for allegedly crossing over to India near Khavda on October 18, 2013, and was later on lodged at the JIC. “Since the day he was admitted here, he was found to be suffering from some mental illness and doctors were treating him since. He was in no state to complain about his problems himself. We came to know about his breathlessness only after fellow detainees alerted us,” Jani said.

On November 4, 50-year-old Riyaz, a native of Kantiyar village in Muzaffargarh district of Pakistan’s Punjab province, died after being admitted to GK General Hospital following difficulty in breathing. He was caught in 2016 for allegedly illegally crossing the Indo-Pakistan border near Rapar. The JIC officers had said that Riyaz also suffered from a mental illness. Riyaz’s death was followed by death of Ashiq Ali Sadiq Ali on November 19, who had tested positive for Covid-19. Officers of JIC had said Ali, too, had a mental illness as well as problems in the respiratory system.

In October 2019, Himmat Gul Hussain, a middle-aged Pakistani national with an alleged mental illness, had died at Ahmedabad-based Civil Hospital due to Hepatitis B, with none to claim his body at the time. He, too, was being held at JIC in Bhuj after being arrested for crossing over to India in Kutch in 2015.

As per 2017 NCRB data, Gujarat reported the highest number of undertrial prisoners who are Pakistani nationals as compared to other states. Sixty-six of the total 101 overseas prisoners (80 undertrials and 21 convicts) in the state were Pakistani nationals, it stated.

‘B’ Division police station in Bhuj Tuesday said they have registered a case of accidental death in connection with Jat’s death and launched an investigation.

Jatin Desai, the former secretary of India chapter of Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), said similar reasons of deaths of Pakistani nationals “inspires suspicion” and demanded that teams of doctors from Pakistan should be allowed to visit and assess Pakistani nationals being held in India and vice versa.

“Three detainees dying due to similar reasons within a short period of time can raise suspicion in minds of the other country even if reasons cited officially are genuine. This is the reason we have been demanding that both the countries should allow teams of doctors to visit prisoners in each other’s country and assess them. Both India and Pakistan have agreed to such a mechanism around three years ago. A statement issued by Ministry of External Affairs of India on January 1 regarding exchange of list of prisoners also stressed on this. We hope the governments of both the countries take urgent steps and allow doctors’ visits,” Desai, a Mumbai-based activist working for promoting friendly ties between the two neighbouring countries, said.

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