Over 400 Indian fishermen in Pak jails

There are about 420 Indian fishermen,including eight children,lodged in the prisons of Karachi,a Pakistani media report said.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi | Published: March 29, 2009 4:04 pm

There are about 420 Indian fishermen,including eight children,lodged in the prisons of Karachi,with one of the prisoners being charged with ‘murder and terrorism’,a Pakistani media report said.

Among those held,411 are lodged in the Central Prison Karachi (CPK),while eight children were in the Landhi Jai,leading Pakistani daily ‘The News’ has reported.

The report came in the wake of the arrest of 117 Indian fishermen earlier this week and the seizure of 13 of their boats.

“One of the Indian prisoners has been convicted for murder and terrorism,” the daily quoted unnamed officials as saying.

All the prisoners,with whom the daily spoke,said they were in ‘very pathetic conditions’ and complained that neither India nor the Pakistani government was helping them.

A prisoner,Bhabat,told the newspaper that all the fishermen were facing serious health problems and other hardships. Some of them have appealed to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and President Asif Ali Zardari to release them on humanitarian grounds saying they were poor and ‘unable to fulfill the legal formalities’,it said.

Kanjee Raja,another prisoner,said he had not seen his wife and children for several days and was not aware of their whereabouts.

Raja also complained that the Indian prisoners were not allowed to celebrate Holi and said “every person in this world has the right to celebrate” the festival. He wanted all fishermen to be pardoned saying they had entered Pakistani territory by mistake.

He also claimed that the tension between India and Pakistan had made the chances of their release “very bleak” but they were looking forward to some help from NGOs.

Yet another prisoner,Hameer Beeka,told the Pakistani newspaper that he was also concerned about the Indian children who were behind bars.

Bhabat,who said he was a resident of Cooba Island in India,said that all those arrested were relatives and they were arrested by the Pakistani security agencies for the first time. He said the boat he was on,Suranji,did not belong to him and was hired from a local resident of his hometown.

Manu Nagam,another fisherman arrested with the same group,said he was Bhabat’s brother and had two sons and two daughters,while Shafi Lal told the daily that he was a resident of Kadoo Island in India,and was in a boat named Dharam.

While 43 fishermen were arrested on March 22,another 74 were nabbed by the Pakistani maritime authorities and remanded to judicial custody till April 2. One of them identified as Laka had died of illness,reports had said earlier this week.

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