Behind Bars: There are about 1,200 Indian convicts, including 40 women, in UAE jails Image Credit:

Dubai The jail swap agreement signed between India and the UAE does not have many takers, according to social workers who closely work with Indian prisoners in the UAE jails.

Overcrowded and filthy conditions in Indian jails, financial and social compulsions, besides better facilities in the UAE jails, are cited as the main reasons why many inmates reject the opportunity to serve their jail terms in their home country. The prisoner exchange treaty facilitating the transfer of prisoners was ratified by the UAE Cabinet last Sunday.

“My estimation is that not more than 400 out of the 1,200 prisoners will take up the opportunity to serve their jail terms in India for obvious reasons. They do not want their families and friends to find out that they are behind bars. They know it can ruin their social status and marriage prospects. It is easy to maintain anonymity in a foreign country,” said K. Kumar, Convener of the Indian Community Welfare Committee.

There are about 1,200 Indian convicts in UAE jails including around 40 women. There is only one UAE prisoner serving his term in an Indian jail, according to government records.

Suspects on trial, inmates convicted for financial crimes, those who have to pay blood money for accident victims are not eligible to be transferred to prisons in India.

Even among the categories of inmates that are eligible to be transferred, it is estimated that only a small number of prisoners will go “for obvious reasons.”

Anuradha Vobbilisetty, President of the Telugu Shravanthi Association in Sharjah, said more than half of the inmates convicted for minor offences are expected to stay back.

“Many prisoners will stay back in the UAE hoping to be pardoned during special occasions like Ramadan.”

Meanwhile, the logistics and security aspects involved in transferring inmates from the UAE to India have yet to be worked out by the authorities. However, M.K. Lokesh, Indian ambassador to the UAE, has ruled out any mass transfer of prisoners.

“Prisoners who want to be transferred to India should send their requests to the local government. If approved, the request will be then forwarded to the Indian authorities, and they have to formally agree to the transfer in each case,” the ambassador told XPRESS.