Pakistan releases last batch of Indian fishermen

17:35, September 06, 2010      

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Pakistan on Monday released the last batch of 141 Indian fishermen from a prison in the southern port city of Karachi, prison authorities said.

It is the fourth group of the Indian fishermen freed in a week. Some 442 Indian fishermen who completed their prison sentences were released in four batches and handed over to India at the Wagah border.

Last Monday, Pakistani authorities set free a first group of 100 Indian fishermen from a prison in Karachi.

They were held for fishing illegally in Sir Creek, a narrow strip of marsh land separating India's western border from Pakistan.

The fishermen are being released on the order of the federal government and on the request by a legal aid committee, which helps in securing the release of Indian prisoners. A similar committee, comprised former judges, is also working in India to secure the release of Pakistani fishermen and civilian prisoners.

Two non-governmental organizations (NGOs), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and Pakistan Institute of Labor Education and Research, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court for release of the fishermen.

On Aug. 12, the court issued notices to the foreign affairs and interior ministries, ordering the release of the Indian fishermen as they had completed their sentences.

Former federal law minister Iqbal Haider, who had taken up the case for the NGOs, said there are 456 Indian fishermen in Pakistani jails but the government ordered the release of 442. The fate of 14 other fishermen was not yet known.

Pakistan and India routinely arrest each other' fishermen for cross-border fishing. In recent years, they exchange prisoners from time to time as a goodwill gesture.

Source: Xinhua


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