NEW DELHI: Eighty-seven Indians, mostly fishermen arrested in Pakistan for allegedly violating its territorial waters, were on Monday handed over to India at the Wagah Border after being released from a prison.
“We have handed 87 Indians, mostly fishermen, to the Border Security Force,” a Pakistan Rangers official told reporters at the Wagah Border. He said the Indian nationals have been handed over to the Indian authorities after verifying their documents. The Indian nationals were freed from the Landhi Jail in Karachi yesterday. They arrived Lahore by a train on Monday morning.
“After releasing 87 Indians, we now have a total of 457 more (Indians) in the prison, and most of them are fishermen arrested for territorial violation,” Landhi jail’s deputy superintendent Shakir Shah old The Express Tribune. “Some 86 more Indians are likely to be released on March 20,” he said, adding the 87 Indians had been in jail for more than two years. Fishermen are frequently arrested along with their boats by both India and Pakistan as the maritime border in the Arabian Sea is poorly defined, and many fishing boats lack the technology needed to be certain of their precise location.
Some of them spend years in jail before being repatriated. In the past the two nations have released each other’s fishermen as goodwill gestures. Although in December, India and Pakistan had agreed to revive the dialogue process when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj visited Islamabad for a summit, but the same month 66 Indian fishermen were arrested by Pakistan.