Pakistan repatriates 99 Indian prisoners

May 24th, 2008 - 10:42 pm ICT by admin  

Attari Border (Punjab), May 24 (IANS) Following up on bilateral confidence-building measures (CBMs), Pakistan Saturday repatriated 99 Indian prisoners, including 96 fishermen from Gujarat. Besides the fishermen, three Indian citizens from jamu and Kashmir were also released.

The fishermen were happy to return to their country after several months in Pakistani prisons. Most of them were arrested in 2006 by Pakistan’s security agencies from the Arabian Sea on charges of fishing in Pakistan’s territorial waters.

The three Indian nationals also released Saturday were: Shahabbudin and Pervez Ahmed of Kashmir and Mangal Singh of Jammu. They spent respectively 17, 16 and 13 years in Pakistani prisons. All three said they had inadvertently crossed the border and strayed into Pakistan.

They said that nine other Indians in Sialkot jail were waiting for the Indian authorities to complete formalities for their release. They said they also met Sarabjit Singh, an Indian prisoner on a death row in Pakistan on terrorism charges.

This was the first repatriation of Indian prisoners after the formation of the new democratic government in Pakistan in March.

The fishermen were brought to this joint land border checkpost between the two countries from Karachi. They rued that Pakistani authorities were yet to return their confiscated boats.

“The water in the Arabian sea has the same colour, which makes it hard to identify whether we are on the Indian side or in the Pakistani territorial waters. Poor fishermen get caught from both sides,” said Hanif Mohammed, a fisherman from Gujarat. He was released after 28 months in Karachi’s Landhi jail.

The fishermen pointed out that over 700 fellow fishermen from India were still languishing in Pakistani jails and waiting for their release.

“Our lives depend on fishing. Despite our experience with Pakistan, we will still go back to fishing. We are poor people,” said Ramji from Gujarat.

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