Twenty Indian fishermen who were released by the Pakistani government in a goodwill gesture crossed Wagah Border on Monday evening as they were repatriated to their homeland.
The 20 fishermen from Gujarat, languishing at Malir district jail in Karachi’s Landhi area for the last five years for allegedly fishing illegally in Pakistan’s waters, were released on Sunday.
They were sent to Lahore on their way to the Wagah border.
The Foreign Office in a statement said, “These fishermen have been repatriated via Wagah Border to India.”
The released fishermen had already completed their sentence, it said.
Given the humanitarian nature of the prisoners’ issue, Pakistan expects the government of India to reciprocate the gesture in the same spirit, the statement said.
“The 20 Indian fishermen who were released from the District Prison and Correctional Facility, Malir, Sindh province on Sunday were brought to Lahore by a special bus. On their arrival on Monday at the Wagah Border, each of them was provided with food, new clothes and PKR 5,000. After immigration, they were handed over to the Border Security Force (BSF),” a Rangers official told PTI.
The Indian fishermen were seen wearing colourful beaded necklaces and bracelets around their necks and wrists they had made in prison.
Most of them were imprisoned after crossing over to Pakistani waters four years ago with some also leaving after five years.
Ravendra Govind, a fisherman, told reporters that he was glad that he is going back to India, however, at the same time is sad about leaving behind several other Indian fishermen in jail who had also crossed over to Pakistan unknowingly like him.
“Please release the other Indian fishermen also so that they can be with their families,” he requested the Pakistan government.
Govind said he would also ask the Indian government to release the Pakistani fishermen languishing in Indian jails for years for the same offence.
The fishermen who were released include Ranveer Maoo Jee, Babu Naran, Bhupat Bhagwan, Naran Parbat, Bhavesh Shara Bhai, Rukhad Arjun, Dana Bhupat, Ransi Bachu, Pola Sahur, Meepa Aama Bhai, Biso Naga, Parma Haresh Kumar, Paresh Bhai, Taba Bhai, Vaju Lakhman and Juseb Moosa.
Ravendra Govind, Makwaran Bhawesh Kumar, Arjun Babu and Himat Balal Babu are also among the 20 fishermen released.
Pakistan and India regularly arrest rival fishermen for violating the maritime boundary which is poorly marked at some points.