Over 500 Gujarati fishermen languishing in Pak jails, Assemnly told

Over 500 fishermen from Gujarat are still languishing in Pakistani jails as on December 2021, the Gujarat government disclosed in the Assembly during the ongoing Budget session on Wednesday.

Replying to a written question by Congress MLA Punja Vansh, state Fisheries Minister Brijesh Merja informed the House that a total of 519 fishermen from the state are languishing in Pakistani jails.

As on December 31, 2021, 519 fishermen from Gujarat were in Pakistani jails, of which, 358 were arrested in the last two years — 163 in 2020 and 195 in 2021 — Merja said.

The minister informed that the government is making efforts to get these fishermen released, and has submitted the required documentary proof to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for further action after verification of their nationality.

In a related question, the minister said that the government has extended Rs 6.58 crore financial assistance to the fishermen’s families.

It is to be noted that fishermen from Gujarat on several occasions are held by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) after they cross the International Maritime Border Line (IMBL), lured by expectations of catching fish in a bulk.

These fishermen from districts like Porbandar, Gir Somnath and Devbhumi Dwarka mistakenly cross the maritime border in the Arabian Aea and end up in Pakistani jails, the House was informed.

The state government has been conducting awareness programmes and also assisting fishermen in setting up GPS to alert them when they come near the IMBL, the minister informed.

The government also said that in the last two years, the Gujarat government has written 18 times to release the fishermen from Pakistani jails.

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