Early Release Of Indian Fishermen From Pakistan Custody “Top Priority”: India

Indian Union Minister of State (MoS) for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Thursday said that the Indian government gave the highest priority for the security of Indian fishermen and all assistance is being provided for their early release from Pakistani custody.

In response to the questions in Rajya Sabha about the arrested Indian fishermen, Muraleedharan said, “All possible assistance, including legal assistance, is extended to the fishermen for their early release and repatriation, along with the release of their boats.”

He further stated that as soon as the cases of apprehension of Indian fishermen and their fishing boats by Pakistan are reported, immediate steps are taken by the Indian Mission in Islamabad towards seeking consular access from the Pakistan Government.

As per Muraleedharan, 546 Indian fishermen under Pakistani custody are from the state of Gujarat.

“It has been reported that Indian fishermen along with their boats are apprehended by Pakistani authorities for allegedly fishing in Pakistani waters and charged under the Fisheries Act of Pakistan,” MoS Muraleedharan added.

He said that the cases of apprehension of Indian fishermen and their fishing boats by Pakistan authorities are consistently raised with the Pakistan Government and it is conveyed that this issue may be considered on humanitarian and livelihood grounds.

“As a result of sustained efforts by the Government, 2,160 Indian fishermen and 57 Indian fishing boats have been repatriated from Pakistan since 2014. This includes 40 Indian fishermen who have been repatriated from Pakistan this year, so far,” he added.

Earlier, as many as 20 Indian fishermen were released by the Pakistan government, on June 20, through the Attari Wagah border as a goodwill gesture.