Fishing for life ‘Stop treating fishermen like war criminals’

Fishing for life  ‘Stop treating fishermen like war criminals’

KARACHI: A large number of coastal community people, hailing from different jetties of Thatta district and Karachi joined the rally at Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Tuesday to force the government for safe release of fishermen, languishing in Indian jails for long.
The march was organised by Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), which also attracted civil society activists and community elders to show their solidarity with the poor parents.
PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah, Shuja Qureshi of PILER, Saeed Baloch of PFF, Tahira Ali, Majeed Motani and others were leading the march from famous Phuwara Chowk to Karachi Press Club, where a large number of people from coastal villages joined them.
Presently, there are 183 Pakistani fishermen languishing in Indian jails with 300 fishing boats. While 68 fishermen, who went missing 20 years ago, in 1999, when a devastating cyclone hit the country, are also in the jails, said PFF spokesperson.
Several families, especially women travelled from far-off areas of Thatta district, including Atharki, Shah Bunder, Keti Bunder, Chach Jehan Khanm and Jati. The majority of fishermen detained in India belong to these areas. Their families and children back home are facing difficulties in their absence because many of them were sole bread earners.  
An old woman Sakina Thaemor from Chach Jehan Khan said Indian forces caught her five sons while they were fishing in the open sea. “Yaqub Thaemor, Mohammed Thaemor, Hussain Thaemor, Ali Thaemor and Natho Thaemor are in Indian jails. I have visited all the influential people, requesting them to bring my sons back but it seems nobody is here to listen to my grievances,” she said.
Crying for help and explaining her situation, the old woman exclaimed, “I am unable to work. I am unable to sleep, and I just want to see my sons before I die.”
Calling politicians callous, merciless, cruel and unkind, Sakina related her story. “Whenever I try to contact some influential person, they are reluctant to meet,” she said.
She was among a large number of similar women, whose sons, husbands and fathers are in jail.
Naseema Thaemor, who was also in the rally, told media that her husband and brother, both were languishing in some Indian jail.
“There are many parents, who have died, waiting to see their sons return home,” she said, disclosing how her mother-in-law Azeema Thaemor died in the fishing boat while on a trip to open sea for fishing, quite recently.
She used to cry and lived under constant stress and pain, informed Naseema.
PFF Chairperson Mohammed Ali Shah said they are demanding both the governments of Pakistan and India to resolve the issue of Sir creek and detaining fishermen.
“We condemn arresting fishermen by both the governments on tit-for-tat as it affects the poor families on both sides, who depend on fishing and in case of detaining their loved ones face problems,” he said.
PFF leaders demanded both the governments to announce safe release of fishermen languishing in Pakistani and Indian jails on humanitarian basis.
Shuja Qureshi of PILER said their organisation (PILER) and PFF were struggling together for the same cause, considering detention of poor fishermen a humanitarian issue and asking the governments of Pakistan and India to resolve it permanently.
He said fishermen should be allowed to continue with their livelihood activities without any fear. There should be clear demarcations to avoid uncertainty for the community people. He demanded the governments not to treat fishermen like war criminals and ensure their safe release.
A large number of minor children, carrying portraits of their fathers and relatives, also participated in the march to seek justice from the Federal and provincial governments.

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