New Delhi: An Indian prisoner lodged in a Colombo jail has said that Indians and Pakistanis are among a large number of inmates on hunger strike in Sri Lanka's main jail to seek early repatriation to their countries.

Using a mobile telephone provided by a guard, the prisoner, who did not wish to be identified by name, said the protest fast began May 19 at the Wellikade prison in Colombo.

According to him, 27 Indian male and four female prisoners along with 21 Pakistanis have refused to take any food and are surviving only on water 'for the past few days'.

“Thousands of Sri Lankans are also on hunger strike for being jailed for unduly long durations but none of this is coming out in the media here,” the prisoner said.

“A few prisoners have been shifted to the hospital for not taking food,” he added. “Some prisoners are not taking part in the protest due to health reasons.”

There was no independent confirmation of the prisoner's claim. A section of Sri Lankan media has said the issues that led to the prison unrest have been resolved.

The Indian prisoner, who is in prison for a drug offence, contested this, and explained what the Indians and Pakistanis wanted.

“Some of us have been rotting away for years and years,” he said. “I have been sentenced to life imprisonment and I have already spent 10 years. There is a law under which we can be sent to India to serve the remaining prison term. The authorities here are just not bothered. Indian diplomats too do not take up our case. We are really frustrated. There are people who have been in prison for 15, as long as 20, years. These are mainly Sri Lankans. Why can't they be released? Indians and Pakistanis are not demanding to be released from prison. All we want is to go back to India and Pakistan and serve the rest of the sentences there. What's wrong with our demand?”

According to the prisoner, most Indians and Pakistanis are in jail on drug related offences.

He said at one point of time the jail staff told the protesting prisoners that Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse's son would visit them soon and hear their grievances.

“But that never happened. Instead a senior government official came and he met 11 Sri Lankan prisoners, one Pakistani and one Indian prisoner,” said the prisoner.

“But nothing happened after that. And we are still on hunger strike.”

(Agencies)