GFA demands release of Indian fishermen held by Pakistan

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Vadodara, June 23: Ahead of the talks between foreign secretaries of India and Pakistan today (Jun 23), the Gujarat Fishermen Association (GFA) has demanded inclusion of the issue of releasing more than 260 fishermen languishing in Pakistani jails on the agenda of the dialogue.

Demanding retrieving of as many as 500 fishing boats worth around Rs 400 crore, seized by Pakistan since 2003, the GFA vice-president Velbhai Masani said that the issue be included in the talks.

"This is one of the very important issues of confidence building measures (CBM) between both the countries but the Government of India is not giving importance to such issues because it relates to Gujarat," said Masani.

Talking to PTI on phone, the GFA vice president claimed that the Union government was biased in dealing with the issue of releasing Gujarati fishermen and has not done anything to secure their release.

Alleging discrimination, Masani cited the efforts undertaken by the union government in securing release of Tamil fishermen captured by the Sri Lankan security agencies earlier.

Since the issue of Tamil fishermen was vociferously raised by DMK chief M Karunanidhi, the coalition partner of the UPA at Centre, and incumbent chief minister of that state Jayalalithaa, the government acted swiftly, said Masani, adding that the Indian owners of the seized boats are finding it difficult to repay the loan amount.

PTI

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