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Pakistan releases 163 Indian fishermen in goodwill gesture

Pakistan on Sunday released 163 Indian fishermen held for violating its territorial waters as a goodwill gesture amid tensions between the two neighbours over the Kashmir issue and an attack on a police station in Punjab's Gurdaspur district.

india Updated: Aug 02, 2015 19:33 IST
AFP
Pakistan releases Indian fishermen,Pakistan,India
Fishermen-move-their-boat-to-shore-after-fishing-on-Marina-beach-in-Chennai-Reuters-Babu

Pakistan on Sunday released 163 Indian fishermen held for violating its territorial waters as a goodwill gesture amid tensions between the two neighbours over the Kashmir issue and an attack on a police station in Punjab's Gurdaspur district.

The fishermen were freed from Malir jail in the southern port city of Karachi.

"We have a total 660 Indians in the prison and most of them are fishermen, who were arrested for violations of territorial waters in the Arabian Sea during the last two years. We have (today) released 163 fishermen as a goodwill gesture," jail superintendent Muhammad Hassan Sehto told AFP.

Those released include five children aged between 10 and 14.

A 10-year-old from Gujarat state, who spent eight months behind bars, left with tears of emotion.

And a 12-year-old named Bharat said he had been incarcerated for 18 months "just because there is no line in the water (between India and Pakistan)".

Pakistan's leading charity the Edhi Foundation paid the travel expenses of the Indians and presented them with gifts on their departure from the railway station.

Each country often arrests the other's fishermen, along with their boats, since many fishing boats lack the technology to check their location.

India and Pakistan also use the releases as expressions of goodwill.

Three gunmen stormed a police station and killed seven people in Punjab's Gurdaspur district last week and home minister Rajnath Singh said they came from Pakistan.

There has also been a flare-up in violence along the de facto border in Kashmir in recent weeks.

First Published: Aug 02, 2015 19:30 IST