Mumbai, March 28 (IANS) The Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) on Tuesday expressed “serious concern” over the arrests of around 100 Indian fisherfolk and seizure of 19 boats by Maritime Security Agency of Pakistan last week.
In a statement, PIPFPD spokesperson Jatin Desai said that “the number of arrests is extremely high and this has not happened in the recent past.”
“In the Saurashtra (Gujarat) region, this is affecting the economy severely. Arrests of this kind create an atmosphere of fear within the community and hesitation to go to the sea, this ultimately affects the fishing industry as a whole,” he said.
The PIPFPD feels that it is not only the fisherfolk and their families but the community suffers, the young children are deeply affected by family members getting arrested, it hits their upbringing, the rigour and support they need to carry on their education, he added.
“It is high time that the Indian Coast Guard and the MSA must dialogue on this issue specifically since it is a violation of human rights and also a violation of the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea. A meeting is scheduled next month and we urge both the governments to discuss this issue in detail,” Desai said.
He sought a revival of various mechanisms like the India Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners since it affords the arrested people an opportunity to put forward their case status, their grievances, health related issues etc.
“The people of both the countries have since years been demanding for a No Arrest Policy which has not even been considered for discussion till now,” he noted.
Owing to this complete pause on the dialogue, the fishing community on both sides has borne the brunt as their life and livelihood are at stake.
The PIPFPD said that while the release of around 400 fishermen by Pakistan in December 2016-January 2017, was laudable, it is important for both neighbouring countries to main the policy of peace and dialogue so people do not become victims of the politically created hostilities.
Last Sunday, the Pakistan’s MSA said it had detained 100 Indian fishermen for allegedly violating the country’s maritime boundary and also seized 19 boats.
They were later handed over to the local police for legal proceedings and were due to be produced before a court.