KARACHI: At least nine Pakistani fishermen on board a fishing boat were taken into custody by Indian Coast Guard (ICG) after they allegedly crossed over to the Indian side of International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in the Arabian Sea.
The arrests come a week after Pakistan released 26 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture before formation of new government in that country.
The Indian Coast Guard said that the Pakistani boat was named Al Aisha and had nine fishermen on board. “All the crew and boat were escorted to Okha port and have been handed over to local Marine Police for further investigation,” the spokesperson further said.
Chairperson of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) Muhammad Ali Shah said that the maritime boundary between India and Pakistan was not demarcated. “This leads to arrests of fishermen from both countries,” he said.
Shah said that for years, fishermen and their families on both sides of the border feared detentions and financial losses.
According to him, fishing was banned in June and July and fishermen, who set sail in the first week of August, might have mistakenly crossed the undefined boundary in search of better fish catch.
“More than 150 other detained fishermen are from Thatta, Sujawal and Badin districts.”
Indian courts, he said, sentenced the fishermen for six months, but the Indian authorities kept them up to three years in jail before handing them over to Pakistani authorities.
India and Pakistan have disputes over the alignment of IMBL in the Arabian Sea. But the dispute over the waterfront often leads to arrest of fishermen of one country by the security agencies of the other. These fishermen languish in jails of the other country, some time for years.—INP