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113 Indian fishermen return home from Pakistani jail

In a fitting reply to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif 's "goodwill" gesture, Indian counterpart PM Narendra Modi might also release 88 Pakistani fishermen lodged in Indian jails ahead of the holy month of Ramzan.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2015 21:52 IST

Pakistani authorities on Friday handed over 113 Indian fishermen, who spent nine months behind bars, to India's BSF at the Wagah Border, a day after Pakistan said it would release them in a goodwill gesture.

"After completing the papers verification process, we have handed over 113 Indian prisoners to the BSF," a Rangers official told reporters at Wagah.

Their release is a "goodwill" gesture from Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif after his telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Modi had also shown his intention to release 88 Pakistani fishermen lodged in Indian jails so that they spend the holy month of Ramzan with their families back home.

The Indian fishermen were released from Milar Jail Sindh district on Thursday. They arrived here by a train escorted by the Sindh police this morning and were handed over to the Rangers.

The Indian fishermen said they spent nine months behind bars for having entered Pakistani waters by mistake. "We came this side without realising it. We were only after bigger and better catch. But who knew that we would ourselves become the catch," Alam Dada told Dawn.

"I have six children back home. While I was here in jail my wife, Zubaida, had to clean people's houses and wash their plates to keep them from starving.

"Meanwhile, here in jail I was eating chicken three times a week. Once back home, I wouldn't even take the risk of stepping inside a boat. I'd rather take up labour work," he said.

Shabbir Iqbal Mansuri said he had parents, six brothers and one sister, a wife and three little ones waiting for his return home.

"My brothers helped my wife and children make ends meet in my absence. All I care about is getting back home," he said.

When asked if being a Muslim helped or put him in a better position than the other Hindu jail inmates here, the fisherman shook his head.

"The only thing that helped me was a mosque inside the jail premises where I would go to pray," he said. Hemant Gulab, the only fisherman sporting a red tilak on his forehead said that the kumkum powder for his tilak was sent to him by his mother inside a letter from Gujarat.

Milar Jail official Mohammad Hassan Sahito said: "After the release of the 113 today, another 361 Indian fishermen are languishing in this jail. Among them, 76 are detainees, 157 convicts and 128 undertrial," he said.

First Published: Jun 19, 2015 21:33 IST