Pakistan will release on Friday (May 12) 199 Indian fishermen arrested for allegedly fishing illegally in the country’s waters, but an Indian civilian who was to be repatriated with them has died due to illness.
Kazi Nazir, a police official in the Jail and Corrections Department in Sindh, said government ministries had told them to prepare for the release and repatriation of 199 fishermen on Friday (May 12).
The fishermen will be sent to Lahore and handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border. Currently, the fishermen are lodged at the Landhi Jail in Karachi in Sindh province.
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Nazir said the “goodwill gesture” was on although an Indian civilian prisoner, Zulfiqar, died in a hospital in Karachi on Saturday (May 6) due to illness.
“According to officials, the Indian prisoner complained about high fever and chest problems. His condition deteriorated last week. So, he was sent to the hospital where he passed away due to apparent lung infection,” the officer said.
The Edhi Welfare Trust, which usually arranges for the safe transportation of Indian fishermen to Lahore and provides other help in jails, said Zulfiqar’s death was not a mystery as conditions in the Landhi and Malir jails were far from ideal.
In the process, prisoners with poor health and chronic ailments struggle to get regular proper treatment.
Prison doctors and even the hospital were generally not equipped to deal with serious ailments, the official said.
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According to the Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, at present 631 Indian fishermen and one civilian prisoner are in jails in Karachi despite completing their prison sentences.
Adil Sheikh, who works with the Forum in Karachi, said these Indian fishermen ended up in Pakistani prisons after being arrested for allegedly violating the marine territorial demarcation treaty between Pakistan and India.
Nearly all of them are poor, illiterate people, he added.
In the past as well, a few Indian civilian prisoners have died in hospitals due to illnesses.
An estimated 83 Pakistani fishermen are in Indian jails.
Pakistan and India regularly arrest each other’s fishermen for violating the maritime boundary.
(With agency inputs)