Ahmedabad: Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) has apprehended 18 Indian fishermen and seized their three boats off the Gujarat coast, an association said on Monday.
These fishermen were captured by the PMSA near the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL) on Sunday, secretary
of Porbandar-based National Fishworkers Forum Forum (NFF) Manish Lodhari told PTI over phone.
"We came to know about the incident from other fishermen who returned to the coast. We were told that 18 fishermen on three fishing boats were apprehended by the Pakistani agency near Jakhau coast and taken to Karachi," he said.
The arrests were made on a day when Pakistani authorities announced they will release 87 Indian fishermen, most of them from Gujarat, who according to PMSA, were captured for allegedly violating its territorial waters.
The announcement was made on Sunday and the released fishermen will return home on Monday after the issuance of
travel documents by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad.
This is the second incident in last one month when PMSA has captured Indian fishermen off the Gujarat coast. On
7 February, the agency had apprehended 12 fishermen and seized two boats.
Recently, Lodhari sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to initiate efforts to bring back jailed Indian fishermen and their boats from Pakistan.
According to Lodhari, who is also president of Porbandar Fishermen Boat Association, at present there are around 440 Indian fishermen, mostly from Gujarat, and about 860 boats in the custody of Pakistan.
In his letter, Lodhari had claimed that out of the 860 boats, 604 belonged to fishermen from Porbandar, around 400 km from Ahmedabad.
Gujarat Fisheries Minister Babubhai Bokhiria said the state government received a communication about the release of 87 Indians from the Indian High Commission office in Islamabad some time back, which was sent via Union home ministry.
"The message said that Pakistan has released 86 fishermen and one civilian, who have already boarded a train at Karachi on Sunday and will reach Lahore on Tuesday (tomorrow), where they will be handed over to the Indian authorities," Bokhiria told PTI over phone.
Accordingly, the Gujarat government would send a team of Fisheries Department officials to Amritsar tomorrow to receive the Indians freed by Pakistan.
Bokhiria claimed that the message also said that 86 more fishermen would be released from the jail in Karachi on 21 March.
Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani said he has requested the Punjab government to take custody of these 87 Indians at Wagah border, saying it would be difficult for the Gujarat government team to reach there in time.
"I have made this plea to Punjab government on humanitarian ground as the released nationals will be tired
after three days of journey from Karachi to Lahore," he said.