Released Indian Fishermen Seen Off At Wahga
LAHORE: 100 Indian fishermen on Tuesday left for their homeland through the Joint Check Post (JCP) Wahga after the completion of their prison terms in Pakistan. They had been detained in Malir Jail Karachi along with 332 other Indian fishermen over charges of “illegal entry in the Pakistani waters”. The prisoners were released from jail on August 28 and were handed over to the Indian authorities at Wahga border on August 31.
According to a notification from the Sindh Home Department, a second batch of prisoners comprising 100 Indian fishermen would be released on September 2 and a third batch comprising 101 prisoners would be released on September 4 whereas the last batch of 141 prisoners is going to be released on September 6.
Pak-India Joint Judicial Committee Member Justice (r) Nasir Aslam Zahid, South Asia Partnership (SAP) Member Senator Iqbal Haider, representatives from the Pakistan Fisherfolk, Pakistan Institute of Peace and Secular Studies, Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) and several other NGO members were also present on the occasion.
16-year-old Mahesh, hailing from Indian state Gujarat, was amongst the prisoners released on August 28. While talking to the media, Mahesh said that he along with four fishermen — Poonjah, Beekha, Raja and Haresh — had went on a routinely fishing trip on his village jetty on December 19, 2009 when they strayed into the territorial waters of Pakistan. He told the media that he being a minor was kept at the Youthful Offenders Industrial School (commonly known as Juvenile Jail). Mahesh also mentioned his brother Ramesh, who was caught while fishing in Pakistani waters and was then tried in a court.
Another released prisoner Jeenti, aged 17, said “at first, I was afraid of being in a Pakistani prison, but soon I realized that the inmates, all Pakistani naturally, were not as hostile as I had feared”.
The representatives of several NGOs, while talking to the media, demanded the Indian authorities to release Pakistani fishermen kept as prisoners in Indian jails before Eid-ul-Fitr.