VADODARA: The officials of the fisher¬ies department of Gujarat Government took custody of 220 fishermen who were handed over by Pakistan to Indian agen¬cy, late last night, a senior official said.
“These fishermen were released from the Landhi jail in Karachi on December 25 as a goodwill gesture and were handed over to the Border Secu-rity Force (BSF) at the Wagah Border on Monday,” Ashok Patel, superinten¬dent of the fisheries department of the Gujarat government told PTI.
“The team (of fisheries department) has been camping in Amritsar to make arrangements for bringing these fisher¬men back to Gujarat,” he said. Talking to PTI from Amritsar, Ramesh Makwana, one of the released fisherman, who hails from Tad village in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, said, “We never ex-pected release of 439 fishermen by Paki¬stan at one go and it came as a surprise for all of us. Another batch of 219 fisher¬men will be released on January 5, 2017.”
“The Edhi Foundation a Karachi based non government organisation made arrangements for bringing us to Lahore from Karachi by a special train,” said the released fisherman.
He thanked Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani among others for tak¬ing up the issue for their release with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who in turn took up the matter with his Pa¬kistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.
Makwana, while describing the harsh conditions in which they stayed in Pakistani jail, said, “They had to face lot of hardships as about 100 fishermen were kept in a single room in the prison and had to face mosquito menace.”
He said they realised that they had en¬tered into enemy territorial waters only after Pakistani Marine Security Agency (PMSA) nabbed them. “Most of us are sole bread earn¬ers of our family,” said Makwana.