KARACHI, Nov 17: As four of the seven Pakistani prisoners released recently by India have reached their homes in Sindh, 12 Indian fishermen were booked on Saturday for illegally entering Pakistani waters.
The Pakistan Maritime Security Agency caught the 12 Indian fishermen along with their two boats on Friday and handed them over to the Docks police a day later.
The four prisoners, including a couple hailing from Umerkot, along with three others belonging to Punjab were released by India as a goodwill gesture on their part after Pakistan released 15 Indian fishermen for Diwali last Sunday.
Pakistani and Indian fishermen continue to stray into the waters of the other country, as the sea limits between the two countries, Sir Creek, has not yet been demarcated and was still disputed despite the lapse of over six decades. The fishermen in the absence of the clearly demarcated waters stray into the other country’s water and are caught by the security forces of the other country and end up spending long time in prisons there.
“The four Pakistani prisoners recently released from India have all reached their homes,” a spokesperson for the Edhi Foundation told Dawn on Saturday.
According to sources, the Pakistani prisoners were said to have done time in various Indian jails, including the ones in Jodhpur, Amritsar, Tihar, Gujarat and Kashmir.
“All were treated to a hearty meal soon after crossing the border at Wagah on Thursday after which the four hailing from Sindh were taken to the Edhi Home in Gulberg, Lahore, where arrangements were made to send them to their respective cities and towns,” the spokesperson said.
He added that among them were 50-year-old Nero and his 45-year-old wife Naina, who belong to Umerkot in Sindh, 50-year-old Karo of Badin and 26-year-old Waheed Alam of Karachi.
Mr Kazmi of the Edhi Foundation said: “They had visas et al but they remained in India even after the expiry of their visas”.
The 12 Indian fishermen were caught by the Pakistani forces while they were fishing over 230 kilometres — some 60 kilometres south of Karachi — inside the Pakistan waters on Friday, said PMSA spokesperson Commander Mohammad Farooq.
Though Pakistani fishermen also stray into Indian waters, but the records have shown the number of Indian fishermen being caught in Pakistani waters and ending up in Pakistani prisons was many times higher than the Pakistani fishermen being caught in Indian waters.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum representative Sami Memon told Dawn that the PFF had been making efforts to convince both the countries that till the border dispute was solved they jointly issue fishing licences to the fishermen of both the countries and declare a 100-kilometre zone — 50 kilometres on each side of the border — as a buffer zone, where the registered fishermen could fish and easily be identified whenever caught by the security forces of the other country.
He said that India had agreements with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka that whenever they catch the fishermen of the other country in their waters, the fish catch was confiscated and the fishermen were told to return instantly without being arrested.
He said that a similar arrangement could be prepared between India and Pakistan so their fishermen when caught by the other country were released instantly after taking away their fish catch rather than arresting them.
He said that currently there were 149 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jail and with the addition of 12 new fishermen the total number would increase to 161.
He said that some 676 Indian fishermen had been released from the Pakistani jails during 2012.
He said while India had released 64 Pakistani fishermen from its jails during 2012, there still were around 125 Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails.