250 Indian fishermen sent back
LAHORE: Almost 250 Indian fishermen left for home on Thursday after being released from Pakistani jails for alleged illegal entry and fishing in the Arabian Sea, said an official.
The 266 fishermen were handed over to Indian officials at the Wagah border, said Captain Abdur Raof, a Pakistani border guard. The fishermen were moved to Lahore on Sunday from Karachi. The Edhi Foundation arranged transportation for them from a jail in Lahore where they were temporarily held until the Indian Embassy arranged travel documents for them, Mr Raof said.
The fishermen were given toys and clothes for their children, said Muhammad Sighatullah, an official with the foundation. Kishan Lal, a 40-year-old Indian fisherman, said he was happy to be released after three years in a Pakistani jail. “I had forgotten that I will return home someday,” said Lal, the father of three children from Indian state of Gujarat.
Pakistan and India arrest each other’s fishermen after accusing them of border violations and illegal fishing, he added. He said many of them go without trials and wait years before being released. Pakistan and India in recent weeks have held negotiations to normalise ties between them and have pledged to release each other’s civilian prisoners and fishermen.
Almost 629 other Indian fishermen are still being held in Pakistan, said Prem Ji Modi, head of the Sagar Kheut or Sea Farmer Welfare Trust, who was in Pakistan last week. ap