Twenty Indian fishermen lodged in Landhi jail in Karachi will be released by Pakistan on Sunday and handed over to the Indian authorities the next day, the Gujarat government said on Friday. The Pakistan decision to release the Indian fishermen comes days after India released and repatriated 10 Pakistani fishermen on November 2.
“Pakistan will release 20 Indian fishermen on November 14. The fishermen will enter India via Wagah border on November 15,” Gujarat Fisheries Minister Jitu Chaudhary confirmed to The Indian Express on Friday.
Most of the fishermen set to be released are natives of Gir Somnath district in Gujarat and Union territory of Diu off Una coast. They have been identified as Ranvir Mega, Babu Kirsan, Bhupat Bhagwan, Naran Parbat, Bhavesh Sharabhai Arjun Babu, Rukhad Arjun, Dana Bhpat, Ransi Bachu, Pola Sadhur, Meepa Aamabhai, Biso Naga, Hareshkumar Parma, Paresh Govindbhai, Ravendra Goindbhai, Bhaveshkumar Makwaran, Taba Lumbhabhai, Vaju Lakhman, Juseb Moosa and Himat Balu.
These fishermen were apprehended by the Pakistan Marine Security Agency (PMSA) for allegedly crossing over to the Pakistan side of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) on the Arabian Sea off the Kutch coast. They have since completed their jail term in Pakistan.
“These are among the 376 Indian fishermen who have completed their jail term in Pakistan and their nationality has been confirmed by India. Some of these 20 had completed their sentence in Pakistan a long time ago. For instance, Ranvir Mega’s sentence had ended in May 2017 and yet he continued to languish in Pakistan jail,” Jatin Desai, former secretary of the Indian chapter of Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), said.
“As prison sentence of 376 Indian fishermen has ended and their nationality has also been verified, all of them should be released immediately and not just these 20,” he added.
Incidentally, India, on November 2, released 10 Pakistani fishermen from its jail and repatriated them through the Wagah border. These fishermen were arrested by the Indian authorities for allegedly violating Indian territorial waters and had subsequently served their jail term awarded by Indian courts.
There are around 600 Indian fishermen lodged in Pakistan jail and around 60 Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails.
India and Pakistan have disputes over the alignment of the IMBL at the Arabian Sea and every year, PMSA apprehends a few hundred Indian fishermen along with their boats for allegedly crossing over to the other side of the maritime border. On the other hand, the Indian Coast Guard and other security agencies detain a few dozen Pakistani fishermen for crossing over to this side.