More than 6,500 Indian nationals are jailed in foreign countries, with a majority of them lodged in the jails of the Gulf countries, it has been revealed.
Saudi Arabia has 1,691 Indian prisoners, Kuwait 1,161 and the UAE 1,012, according to India's Ministry of External Affairs which was responding to a Right to Information (RTI) application.
Indian media quoted the ministry as saying there are a total of 6,569 Indians held in jails in 112 foreign countries.
The major cause of imprisonment in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were rape, robbery, drug trafficking, fake iqamas (Islamic calls to prayer), immoral relationships, traffic accidents and sale of liquor, the ministry said.
Late last year, it was reported that hundreds of Indian and Pakistani prisoners will be able to serve their jail sentences in their home countries after the UAE cabinet approved a prisoner transfer agreement with the two countries.
Under the Transfer of Sentenced Persons Agreement, prisoners with a minimum of six months left to serve will be able to apply for the transfer but must not have a pending case against them. Inmates imprisoned for drug offences, murder and financial crimes will not be eligible.
Official estimates suggest that as many as 960 Indian and 800 Pakistani prisoners were eligible for the transfer.
Apart from the Gulf countries, Pakistan has 254 Indian prisoners, most of them fishermen; China has 157 Indians lodged in its prisons, over charges like drugs or human trafficking, robbery and forgery.
Nepal has about 377 Indian prisoners, who face charges like kidnapping, possession of illegal arms or drugs and theft while Bangladesh has 167 Indian prisoners.
Other foreign countries with a large number of Indian prisoners were Britain (426), the US (155), Malaysia (187) and Singapore (156).