Body of Indian fisherman who died in Pak jail to be sent home

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Karachi, Feb 14: The body of an Indian fisherman who died in a Pakistani jail last year is expected to be sent home on Saturday, officials said on Friday.

Bhikha Lakha Shiyal, 35, died on December 29 in a Karachi jail allegedly due to natural causes but his body has been kept at a mortuary here because technical formalities were to be completed by Pakistan and India.

"Our Second Secretary in the Consular section is already in Karachi trying to speed up the process. He has not been handed over the body as of now," an Indian diplomatic source told PTI.

Sources said if the body is handed over by tomorrow, Indian authorities plan to send it on a Pakistan International Airlines flight the same day to Mumbai, from where it would be taken to Shiyal's hometown in Gujarat.

If for some reason the body is not handed over tomorrow, it is likely to be sent on the next PIA flight on Monday, the sources said. PIA is the only airline with direct flights between Indian and Pakistani cities.

Earlier this month, another Indian fisherman Kishore Bhagwan was found dead in mysterious circumstances in Karachi's Landhi jail. India had asked Pakistan last month to speed up the process of sending back Shiyal's body. Indian sources here said that they learnt of Shiyal's death only when the two countries exchanged lists of prisoners on January 1.

The Pakistani list showed Shiyal as "dead".

"We immediately took up the matter and asked for documents from India to identify him. We confirmed his identity and wrote to Pakistan's Foreign Office to speed up the process so that his body can be sent back to his family," a source said.

A reminder letter was also sent to Pakistani authorities to speed up the process, sources said. Shiyal was arrested with several others by Pakistan's Maritime Security Agency in the Arabian Sea on October 25 for straying into Pakistani waters.

He died on December 19 in a Karachi jail. Shiyal, whose wife died about two years ago, has a 15-year-old daughter and three-year-old son.

A Rajya Sabha MP had written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up with the Pakistan government the issue of bringing back his body. In his letter to the Prime Minister on January 14, Parimal Nathwani, an Independent MP in Rajya Sabha, said Shiyal's body was still in Pakistan and this has shocked his two children and family.


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