372 Indian fishermen still in Pak custody: Minister

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New Delhi, Feb 27 (UNI) External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee today said at least 949 fishermen have been nabbed by Pakistani authorities during the past three years and the Government has taken up the issue of their release at the highest level.

At least 22 fishermen and four boats have been held by Pakistani authorities in the past two months, he said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

He said as per information available, 372 Indian fishermen and 342 boats continue to be in the custody of Pakistani authorities.

The number of fishermen nabbed by Pakistan's Maritme Security Agency was 124 last year, 365 in 2006 and 460 in 2005. In addition, 251 boats were seized by them between 2003 and 2008.

A total of 1579 fishermen have been released by Pakistan including those taken into custody before 2005, he said.

Mr Mukherjee also informed the House that a judicial committee comprising judges from India and Pakistan has been formed to expedite the release of prisoners.

UNI MMG MSJ KN1442

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