Goodwill gesture: Pakistan springs 218 Indian fishermen out of jail

Edhi Foundation pleads for release of Pakistani fishermen held in India

Zubair Ashraf January 05, 2017
A policeman takes a selfie with Indian fishermen at the Karachi railway station. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Pakistan on Thursday released 218 Indian fishermen as a good will gesture. This is the second time in less than two weeks that Pakistan has freed Indian fishermen detained for allegedly violating its territorial waters.

On December 25 last year, Pakistani officials allowed 220 fishermen to leave for Lahore from Karachi by train ahead of their handover to the Indian authorities through Wagah.

As many as 519 Indian fishermen have been in judicial custody in the Malir Jail in Karachi, chairperson of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Muhammad Ali Shah said, adding that the federal government had ordered to release 449 of them.

According to Shah, there are at least 166 Pakistani fishermen languishing in India’s jails. The neighbouring country was yet to respond, he said.

The number of potential fishermen freed on Thursday could have been 219, but one of them, Jeena Bhagwan, died just a day ago of heart attack, prison officials said. His body, they said, would be handed over later after a post mortem examination in the presence of an Indian embassy official.

The freed Indian fishermen boarded Allama Iqbal Express from Karachi to Lahore, the Edhi Foundation’s spokesperson Anwar Kazmi said, adding that from there they would be transported to the Wagah border in buses.

The head of the Edhi Foundation, Faisal Edhi, who urged the Indian authorities to reciprocate the gesture, handed over Rs3,000 to each of the released fishermen for their travel expenses, Kazmi said.

As many as 66 Indian fishermen were remanded to prison by a judicial magistrate on December 30 last year after they were handed over to the Docks police by the Maritime Security Agency.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 6th, 2017.


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