Islamabad, Jan 15: At least 135 Pakistani fishermen are currently detained in Indian jails, the Foreign Office said in a report submitted to the Supreme Court. The apex court had ordered Foreign Office in October to give details of the fishermen languishing in Indian jails, The Express Tribune reported.
The court is adjudicating a constitutional petition filed by the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, through their counsel Advocate Raheel Kamran Sheikh regarding the repatriation of detained Pakistani fishermen, the paper said.
The petitioners requested that steps should be taken to obtain information about the presence of Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails, details of charges against the prisoners, and court judgements on the sentences handed down to them, it said. The petitioners had made the federation through Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Secretary Ministry of Interior, the High Commission of Pakistan in India through High Commissioner and Pakistan Maritime Security Agency through its director general as respondents.
The Foreign Office in its one page reply stated that according to the information provided by the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi, at present 135 fishermen are currently detained in India. "Out of these 135 fishermen, 98 are awaiting consular access, two prisoners are awaiting their repatriation to Pakistan and 35 are awaiting their national status to be confirmed," the FO said.
It also pointed out that in 2015, 121 fishermen were released from Indian jails and 9 fishermen were released in 2016. Meanwhile, Raheel has claimed that there is a difference between the interior ministry and Foreign Office data. "The numbers of prisoners are understated.
Prisoners released from Indian prisons have informed the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum that many people are still languishing in Indian prisons whose names are not available in the list compiled by the Pakistan High Commission," he claimed. Raheel also said that the report does not specify the names of the prisoners, since when they have been detained and what legal assistance has been provided to them so far.