Indian fishermen released, transported to Lahore

Indian fishermen, stranded and convicted for violation of maritime boundaries in the District Prison and Correctional Facility Malir were released on Sunday and will be handed over to the Indian authorities today.

These men obviously ended up on the Pakistani side in 2018, separated from their families, receiving no letters and hearing news only through other fishermen.

One of them, Meru Devsi, talked of how his wife had to do labour work and began to sob as he talked of his children. He said, “my old parents, my five little children, my poor wife have had to really suffer in my absence while I was in jail here for no purposeful fault of mine or theirs for that matter.”

Such men are often caught, coming from the Gujrat side and many Pakistani fishermen also find themselves at Sir Creek, travelling from Thatta.

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The Indian fishermen are not usually very good at following Urdu so they can not get in the normal rehabilitation programs but they are treated rather well, fed properly and put into crafts or handiwork classes which are enjoyed by many. Those released were decked in some beaded jewellery, like bracelets and necklaces.

One of them, Dinesh Megha proudly showed off his bracelet made in the colours of his homeland’s flag. He had been jailed with his uncle Jiva Parbat. Both were glad to be returning, with surma in their eyes and oil in their hair. His uncle had an ajrak over his shoulder which he purchased on his own from his beadwork and his nephew had got him the hair oil and surma (or kajal as he called it).

Among these men were seven Muslim men who claimed they have not received special favours. All of them were given Covid-19 shots before being released. According to Aqeel Younus, “we were all treated well in your jail here. We were all offered the best food here as well. There was mutton, chicken, fish and eggs offered to all of us but since I like vegetables I would have vegetables more.”

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The Assistant Superintendent Malir Jail Kamran Ahmed Sheikh told the media of the innocence of the fishermen from both Pakistan and India, all of whom must not be treated harshly as “they are not criminals after all.” He expressed the hope that the Pakistani fishermen in India would be treated well, too.

Furthermore, Malir District Jail Senior Superintendent Muhammad Arshad also informed that the fishermen were given all facilities according to the law and that they were granted consular access for their release.

The names of the 20 released men are Kanji Jadav, Mano Narain, Dana Wagha, Jewa Parbat, Ramesh Days, Dinesh Megha, Devsi Babu, Meru Devsi, Narain Oghad, Bhanra Karu, Lal Jee Rukhad, Nanji Hameer, Dinesh Bhekha, Abu Ghaffar, Younus Alu, Nisar Haroon, Aqeel Younus, Ameen Suleman, Fareed Anwar, Anees Qadir.

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Once the Home Department had completed all the stages of evidence collecting and processing for their release, they were set free on Sunday morning. The Edhi Foundation, represented by Saad Edhi, was in supervision, transported the fishermen to Lahore by road and gave them gifts and some money as well.

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