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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Fishermen's forum writes to PM over fishermen in Pak custody

PTI  Ahmedabad, March 18, 2013
First Published: 12:38 IST(18/3/2013) | Last Updated: 12:42 IST(18/3/2013)

Concerned over rising cases of Indian fishermen being arrested off the international waters by Pakistan, the National Fish Workers' Forum has written a letter to the prime minister to facilitate a timely solution to the problem.

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"We have written a letter to the prime minister and the foreign minister to look for a timely solution to the problem of Indian fishermen being repeatedly apprehended off the international waters by Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA)," NFWF national secretary Manish Lodhari said.

A copy of the letter, written to the PM on March 15, has also been sent to Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, he said.

Among the primary demands made by the Forum in the letter is setting up of a common fishing zone for Indian and Pakistani fishermen, Lodhari said.

A common fishing zone, he highlighted, would allow fishermen from both the countries to fish in the international waters freely.

He said that they have also sought licences for fishing in international waters.

The letter, according to him, also demands that fishermen caught by both the countries should be let off after checking.

"We have also demanded return of boats that have been seized till now by the PMSA. We fear that the seized boats may be used for anti-national purposes," Lodhari said.

Close to 500 Indian fishing boats are in the custody of PMSA and more than 150 Indian fishermen are languishing in Pakistani jails for crossing international waters.

At least 200 Pakistani fishermen are in Indian jails and 100 of their fishing boats in Indian custody, Lodhari said quoting data available with the Forum.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) had also issued an alert to the commissioner of fisheries, state government, last week over the possibility of fishermen being apprehended by PMSA from near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

The ICG had issued the alert because in the last one month it had apprehended more than 50 Pakistani fishermen from the Indian waters and also seized their boats in two separate operations.

Repeated representations to the state and central government on this issue have not yielded any fruitful result, which is why the problem has not been solved yet, Lodhari said.


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