Wagah, Jan 8: A total of 147 Indian fishermen crossed over to India through the Wagah border after spending eight months in captivity in Pakistan, officials said. In a goodwill gesture, Pakistani authorities had released 147 fishermen.
Their release followed a December announcement by Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Faisal that nearly 300 Indian fishermen would be freed in two phases till January 8.
On December 28, Pakistan had released the first batch of 145 Indian fishermen, who were held there on similar charges. The fishermen travelled from Karachi to Lahore and then crossed through the Wagah border today, officials said.
The travel expenses of the fishermen were reportedly borne by the Edhi Foundation, a Pakistan-based not-for-profit welfare organisation. Fishermen from Pakistan and India are frequently detained for illegally fishing in each other's territorial waters since the Arabian Sea does not have a clearly defined marine border and the wooden boats lack the technology to avoid being drifting away.
Owing to prolonged bureaucratic and legal procedures, the fishermen usually languish in jail for several months. A number of non-governmental organisations in both India and Pakistan have raised the issue, pressing their governments to release arrested fishermen without much delay.