BSF, Pakistani Rangers agree on minimum detention of fishermen
Islamabad: The directors general of Indian Border Security Force (BSF) and Pakistani Rangers have agreed to press their respective government for release of fishermen held on either side after minimum detention and paperwork.
BSF Director General Raman Shrivastava, heading a 19-member delegation, was in Lahore for a strategic meeting to discuss issues pertaining to border security between the two neighbours. Major General Yaqub Ali Khan, director general of Pakistan Rangers (Punjab) headed the host delegation.
The directors general answered questions from the media after the conclusion of their five-day meeting on Saturday.
Shrivastava said that fishermen, crossing the sea borders, were taken into custody by different security agencies on different occasions.
"Once they are arrested, the process of law has to take its course," he said, adding that "mostly they don`t have any documentation to authenticate their whereabouts".
"We only have to rely on their names most of the times and even this does not match with the official records provided by the respective government later on," he added. He also denied the impression that "the fishermen arrested by Indian authorities were treated badly".
"The last time, we brought all Pakistani fishermen all the way from Rann of Kutch in our vehicles. The only delay was because we received the documents from Pakistani embassy late on account of Eid holidays," Shrivastava pointed out, adding that efforts were underway to simplify the process even further.
To a question regarding cross-border smuggling, he alleged that "fake Indian currency and narcotics were being smuggled from Pakistan". "We have brought this to the notice of the Pakistani authorities and remain hopeful of an improvement in the situation," he said.
Regarding the tension between both countries on the borders, the BSF official said that "the situation at ground level was much better than what it was two years ago".
"The situation was better last year, it has improved this year and we are confident that it will improve further in future," he said referring to the bitter bilateral relations after the 26/11 Mumbai terrorist attack in 2008.
Maj Gen Khan said that "smugglers had contacts on either side of the border and both agencies are trying to find a joint mechanism to get rid of it". "Indian liquor is being smuggled into Pakistan in huge quantities and it needs to be checked," he said.
"We will also share lists of foreign prisoners in Indian and Pakistani jails to provide relief to them through the relevant foreign ministries," he said with reference to Indian fishermen. More than 100 Indian fishermen were released from Karachi jail last month following the intervention of the Indo-Pak Fisher Folk Forum.
"We have proposed that firing would only be opened by the forces on either side in their own territory instead of attacking the border posts or villagers across the border," he informed.
Both India and Pakistan have regularly been exchanging allegations of "cross-border firing without any provocation". The border security forces on both sides hold these meetings every quarter to discuss issues of conflict and try to devise a mechanism to resolve them.
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