In what appears to be a goodwill gesture, the Pakistan government has decided to release 151 Indians in its jails, of which 150 are fishermen from Gujarat and Diu who had been arrested, at different points in time, for trespassing into Pakistani waters while fishing in the Arabian Sea.
Most of these fisher men are from the Veravel region in Gujarat, said sources tracking the issue. Their arrival in India coincides with PM-designate Narendra Modi’s swearing-in on Monday.
The prisoners will be released on Sunday morning from Karachi and Hyderabad jails and will reach the Wagah border around noon on Monday, according to the Indian high commission in Pakistan. Pakistani authorities have requested the non-governmental organisation Legal Aid Office to assist in the process of the transfer.
From the border, the Gujaratis are scheduled to travel to Amritsar by train where officials from the Gujarat state fisheries department will escort them to Ahmedabad and further to their villages.
The Pakistan government’s decision to release these prisoners has come as a pleasant surprise to rights’ groups which have been campaigning for the release of prisoners in both the countries.
India and Pakistan exchange lists of prisoners they hold from the other country on January 1 and July 1 every year. According to the lists of January 2014, India had 396 Pakistani prisoners, including 139 fishermen while Pakistan had 281 Indian prisoners of whom 232 were fishermen.