More than a year after India and the Maldives signed an agreement on transfer of convicted prisoners, as many as 14 Indian inmates in the archipelago are losing hope of being transferred to prisons in their country, reports Indian newspaper The Hindu.
“We have no problems. From our side, there is no delay. We welcome India taking back sentenced prisoners,” a Maldivian official told The Hindu last week, when asked about the delay in paperwork.
Just as in the case of 33 Indian prisoners in Sri Lanka, the Indians in Maldives prisons are also at the receiving end of Indian bureaucracy. But unlike in the case of Indian prisoners in Sri Lanka, most of the 14 prisoners in the Maldives are ill and have almost no access to treatment. Access to treatment for most islanders in the Maldives consumes time, energy and money. Vacancies for specialist-doctors exist even in the country’s main hospital, the Indian-built Indira Gandhi Memorial Hospital, Male.
“I do not know what my disease is,” said a woman prisoner who has been jailed in the Central North province of Maafushi, in Kaafu Atoll. “After I have been brought to Maafushi, I have never met a doctor. Every month, they take me to Male and bring me back. Soon after that they take a signature of mine in a paper with something written in Dhivehi [the official language of the Maldives],” said the woman, in a letter to the Indian High Commissioner in the Maldives.