New Delhi: Thirty-five Indian nationals died in custody in jails of 13 foreign countries, the government told Parliament today. In a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh also said that 7,737 Indian nationals were in jails of 77 countries.
“As per the information available with the ministry, 35 Indian nationals died while in custody in jails of 13 foreign countries,” he said.
To a question on whether the Indian government pleaded diplomatic immunity for its ambassador in Portugal from testifying as a witness in court proceedings initiated by 1993 Mumbai blast convicts, he said the Indian envoy to Portugal enjoyed immunity under Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961, and accordingly, was not obliged to give evidence as a witness in a foreign court.
Therefore, Government of India evoked diplomatic immunity for the ambassador of India to Portugal on May 8, 2018, he said. The Indian government and the Portuguese government were in close touch on the matter through diplomatic channels, Singh said.
Responding to a question on whether a campaign calling for a global referendum to determine whether Sikhs should have their own independent state was launched in London, he said that according to reports, a US-based Sikh advocacy group called ‘Sikhs for Justice’ planned to hold an event at Trafalgar Square in London on August 12.
“At the event, the group proposes to issue a so-called ‘London Declaration’ calling for independence of the state of Punjab from India,” he said.
The Ministry of External Affairs, the Indian government and the Indian High Commission in London sent separated Note Verbales requesting the UK government to deny permission for the event, Singh said. To a question on PNB scam fugitive Nirav Modi, Singh said a request had been received in the MEA from the Ministry of Home Affairs for his extradition from the UK.
“The request has been sent by a Special Diplomatic Bag to the High Commission of India, London for onward transmission to the UK authorities,” he said.