National Fish Workers Forum urges India and Pakistan’s prime ministers to release prisoners
AHMEDABAD, April 13 (IANS) The National Fisheries Workers Forum on Thursday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart Shahbaz Sharif to release more than 750 prisoners (fishermen) languishing in the jails of the two countries.
Osman Ghani, Secretary of the National Forum for Fish Workers, who is based in Morbi, said: “We demand the government to release fishermen from both sides in the holy month of Ramadan and on the occasion of Eid. We also demand the release of poachers who are only caught with hunting gear… Only those with any lethal weapon should be detained.”
These prisoners are accused of violating the passport law of the respective countries for trespassing the maritime border and imprisoned after trial before the courts with prison sentences.
Leo Colaco, President of the World Fishermen Forum said: “Earlier, the prison sentence was for a few days, a few weeks or a maximum of a month but now, the situation is so bad that the fishermen who were taken on October 17, 2018 are still in jail. Families do not even know whether their members are alive or not. Because of the strained relationship between India and Pakistan, innocent families are suffering.”
According to reports, there are 654 Indian poachers in Landi Jail in Karachi, Pakistan.
Similarly, there are 83 Pakistani fishermen in various jails in Gujarat as per the records of Fisher Organization.
There are a total of 118 Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails. The fishermen’s arrests continued between 2015, 2016 and 2022 and many of those arrested have already served their sentences.
“This is a humanitarian issue and should be dealt with accordingly,” said Jatin Desai, spokesperson for the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, who has worked closely with the poachers for decades. “An entire family is shattered when one of its members is caught through no fault of his.” More than 15 families from Diu are here. To demand justice. A similar briefing is taking place simultaneously in Pakistan, now. We have support from the Pakistan Fishermen Forum, and the South Asian Solidarity Assembly.”
Jayapen Pariah has not seen her 21-year-old son, Akshay Pariah, in over five years.
She told IANS: “My husband had an accident while working on a ship, and he can’t even get out of bed. I haven’t seen my son in five years. I am the sole breadwinner in a family of five and life has never been harder.”
January / pgh