Pakistan hands over 99 prisoners to India

May 24th, 2008 - 8:23 pm ICT by admin  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Lahore, May 24 (IANS) Pakistan Saturday handed over 99 jailed Indian fishermen at the Wagah border here, three days after the two countries agreed to grant consular access to prisoners in each other’s jails. The released prisoners include 96 fishermen and three others. The fishermen were brought to Lahore from Karachi while three other prisoners were released from Lahore’s Kot Lakhpat jail.

Of the total 473 Indian prisoners in Sindh province, 96 have been freed.

“We still have 375 Indian prisoners in our custody. All are fishermen and none of them has been involved in any criminal activity,” a jail official told IANS on telephone from Karachi.

The prisoners were released Friday after the Indian high commission in Islamabad confirmed that they were Indian nationals and issued them the required travel documents.

The prisoners were handed over to Indian authorities across the Wagha border in the presence of Pakistan’s interior ministry officials and the Indian high commission staff.

Pakistani and Indian security forces frequently jail each other’s fishermen, accusing them of violating their zones in the Arabian Sea, before swapping hundreds of them in goodwill exchanges.

Authorities here estimate that more than 150 Pakistani fishermen are in Indian jails.

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