Several civil society organizations and influential people of India and Pakistan have jointly urged both PMs to release and repatriate all detained fish employees and women prisoners from their custody on the eve of Independence Day.
Fish workers get arrested for entering into other country’s water ‘inadvertently’. The bodies have asked both the PMs to release them on ‘humanitarian grounds’.
A letter requesting this was signed by prominent organizations like Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD); South Asian Partnership (SAP); Legal Aid Office, Karachi; Edhi Foundation; Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum; Aman ki Asha; National Fishworkers’ Forum, Aaghaz-e-Dosti etc. The prominent persons include Admiral (R) L Ramdas, IA Rehman, Faisal Edhi, Syeda Hamid, Beena Sarwar, Anjum Rajabali, Teesta Setalvad, Tahseen, Karamat Ali, Haya Zahid, Anis Haroon, Tapan Bose, Vijayan MJ, Jatin Desai among others.
The letter says, “Both countries regularly repatriate prisoners as a gesture of goodwill during Independence Day celebrations, or on the eve of major religious celebrations. Given the humanitarian crisis posed by Covid-19, we urge you to repatriate these prisoners so that they can reunite with their families.”
Time and again, both countries have acknowledged that these fishermen are innocent and have never been involved in any criminal activity. When convicted, they have to spend about two years in prison in another country. They’re lonely, and so are their families. The scenario of coastal villages is gloomy as women wait for their husbands, brothers or sons-in-law to return.
The list exchanged by India and Pakistan on 1st July stated, 270 Indian fishermen and 54 civilian prisoners are in Pakistan’s prisons. While 97 Pakistani fishermen and 265 Pakistani civilian prisoners are in various Indian prisons.