August 7, 2021 7:01:26 pm
Demanding that India and Pakistan release 632 fishermen from each other’s jail as a goodwill gesture in the run up to their respective 75th Independence Day, fishermen and peace activists on Saturday made an appeal to both the governments.
Families of a group of fishermen from Gujarat and Diu, fishermen leaders from Gujarat, peace activist Jatin Desai and National Fishworkers Forum of India (NFFI) organised a joint press conference in Rajkot on Saturday and appealed to governments of both the countries to release the fishermen and mark an independence day for them.
Of the 632 fishermen, 558 are Indian fishermen lodged in Malir jail in Pakistan and 74 are Pakistani fishermen lodged in various jails in India. Most of the Indian fishermen are from Gujarat, they said.
“We request both the countries to release these fishermen to make the Independence Day meaningful for them also. Nationality of 295 out of 558 Indian fishermen has been verified. We request the Indian government to seek help of fishermen leaders in nationality verification process,” said Desai, Mumbai-based activist working for the welfare of fishermen promoting friendly relationship between India and Pakistan.
India and Pakistan will celebrate its 75th Independence Day on August 15 and August 14 respectively.
Desai also urged both the countries to revive the India-Pakistan Joint Judicial Committee on Prisoners. “The committee last met in Delhi in October 2013. The Indian government appointed four members on the committee in 2018, Pakistan has not done so. We request Pakistan to appoint its members on priority,” added Desai, who has also served as the secretary of the Indian chapter of Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD).
PIPFPD is a group of activists on either sides of the border working for friendly relationship between the two neighbours. Desai also said that both the countries should rectify a lacuna in the 2008 Agreement on Consular Access signed by the two countries so that nationality verification is done in a time-bound manner.
Three women from Vankabara in Union Territory of Diu and two from Kotda village in Kodinar taluka of Gir Somnath district of Gujarat also addressed the media. “My husband Deepak (27) was arrested by Pakistn when my son Vidyut was five months old. Now he has turned four… If August 15 is an occasion to celebrate, we also be given the reason to celebrate by securing release of my husband,” Heera Chavda (22), a mother of two, said.
“We are not getting even any letters from Pakistan nor are our letters delivered to my husband in Pakistan jai. I have never heard from my husband since he was arrested two-and-a-half years ago,” said Ramila Chavada (36), a mother of three from Vanakbara, whose husband Jitu was arrested by Pakistan Marine Security Agency (PMSA).
“The maximum punishment for fishermen entering Paksitani territorial waters is three months but Indian fishermen continue to be in illegal detention for years,” said Velji Masani, national president of All India Fishermen Association and who hails from Mangrol in Gujarat said.
“At those fishermen whose nationality has been verified should be released,” Chhagan Bamania, a fishermen leader from Diu, said.
Jivan Jungi, a fishermen leader from Porbandar, said, “Pollution caused by industries along the sea coast is driving fish schools farther from coast and fishermen therefore, have to go miles away and are getting caught by Pakistan,” he said.
NFFI secretary Usmangani Sherasia said the pipeline being laid from Jetpur in Rajkot to Porbandar to discharge industrial effluent into the sea will cause further problems. “Instead of spending crores on the pipeline, the money should be spent on establishing effluent treatment plants in Jetpur,” he said.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.