Gujarat government on Friday admitted that 801 Indian fishing boats captured by Pakistan in the past are now untraceable and there is no hope of bringing them back.
The revelation came during the ongoing budget session in the Assembly after Congress MLA Punja Vansh raised the issue of Indian fishermen being caught by Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (MSA) near International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) off the Gujarat coast.
On March 5, MSA has captured 46 fishermen with eight of their boats near IMBL and took them to Karachi. Vansh raised this issue under the 'matter of urgent public importance' and sought answer from the Gujarat minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Babu Bokhiria on what government has been doing to stop such incidents.
In his response, Bokhiria told the House that 344 Indian fishermen are still lodged in Pakistan.
He added that 858 boats are also in Pak captivity, out of which, 57 are now being brought back through the efforts of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the state government.
"After 2004, not a single boat has been brought back to India. Through the efforts of Modi and our government, 57 boats out of total 858 boats will be brought back soon. To do that, we have sent a technical team to Karachi recently to inspect, repair and bring them back," Bokhiria told the House.
The minister then slammed the past UPA government for not doing enough to bring these boats back in the past.
He said that out of 858 boats captured, there is no trace of 801 boats in Karachi port. "When our team reached there a few days ago, they found no other boat except these 57 boats at Karachi port. It seems that the rest of the boats are now untraceable. If the past government would have taken steps, we could have brought them here too," Bokhiria said.