KARACHI: One hundred more detained Indian fishermen were released from Malir Jail, Karachi, on Thursday, following the directives of the Sindh government.
The released fishermen hail from various areas of India, including Gujarat and Uttar Pardesh. They have spent up to three years in Pakistani prisons and were arrested at different occasions under the charges of violating sea territories.
“I am very happy that I have finally been released and will see my parents who have been waiting for me,” Jaidev, 30, told reporters before leaving for the Wagah border.
Released fisherman Baboo had heard stories of fishermen’s arrests and tried to be careful. “I had heard that fishermen’s boats are seized and they are put in jails. We were most careful. I can’t understand how we were caught and put in jail,” he said.
Once back, the fishermen plan to put the nightmare of the arrest behind them and continue working.
“I will continue to work [as a fisherman] because this is what we have learnt from our forefathers. We do not have an alternative source of income,” Partab says.
A number of Pakistani fishermen have been detained by the Indian border force but India is yet to reciprocate, says Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum’s (PFF) general secretary Saeed Baloch who received the released fishermen outside the jail.
“For the first time the Pakistani government has ordered the release of all 442 Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails. But there is no positive response from the other side,” he said, urging the Indian government to release Pakistani fishermen immediately so that they could be home in time for Eidul Fitr.
According to the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER), 158 Pakistani fishermen are imprisoned in India as reported in a list by the Indian government.
This was the second batch of Indian fishermen to be released and another 242 will be released in batches on September 4 and September 6 respectively.
“We have completed the process for release of the detained fishermen,” said PFF spokesperson Sami Memon. “Around 101 will be freed on September 4 and 141 will be released on September 6.” However, Memon said, 16 prisoners were yet to be released due to incomplete documentation.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 3rd, 2010.
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