Fate of stranded fishermen bleak as India, Pakistan exchange barbs

  • Jayanth Jacob, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Aug 21, 2016 00:01 IST
Arrested Indian fishermen gather in a police lock up in Karachi on October 4, 2015. (AFP File Photo)

The tension between India and Pakistan has come in the way of release of Indian fishermen, who strayed across the maritime border inadvertently.

According to government data, there are 392 Indian fishermen languishing in various Pakistani jails at present.

Of these, some did not get their nationalities verified because Pakistani authorities refused to grant them consular access. Consular access enables Indian high commission officials to meet the fishermen — most of whom hail from Gujarat — in jail.

“We have been repeatedly urging Pakistan authorities to grant consular access, but they are not forthcoming,” said an Indian official.

The two countries are engaged in a diplomatic offensive after the fresh bout of violence in Kashmir.

Since the NDA government came to power in 2014, fishermen who ventured into Pakistani waters secured their release without much hassle.

This year, Pakistan has released 190 fishermen so far, with the last batch freed in March. “It is a humanitarian issue and should be seen like that. We have been taking this up with Pakistan consistently,” said the official. He also said there were only 37 Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails. 

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