New Delhi: A delegation of fishermen from Saurashtra led by Gujarat Congress chief Arjun Modhwadia, Union Ministers and MPs from the state met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet colleagues seeking effective steps to redress problems of jailed fishermen in India and Pakistan.
The ten-member delegation of fishermen along with leaders of Congress, representatives of Pakistan India Peoples Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD) and National Fishworkers Forum (NFF) met Singh and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar yesterday and Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid today.
The delegation included Union Ministers from Gujarat Dinsha J Patel and Tushar Chaudhary and Congress MPs Prabha Kishor Taviad, Alka Balram Kshotriya, Praveen Rashtrapal, Jagdish Thakor and Kunwarjibhai Mohanbhai Bavaliya.
They demanded a "No Arrest Policy", implementation of the interim recommendations of the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners and an agreement for fishing rights in a joint fishing zone.
They also sought unilateral and unconditional release of all Pakistani fishermen lodged in Indian jails, release of all Pakistani boats under Indian custody, centralised (national) Identity Cards for all fishermen who go to sea and a separate Fisheries Ministry.
They demanded that a high-level working group involving representatives from the fishing community should be constituted to monitor and prevent the arrest of fishermen and confiscation of the boats and facilitation of Indian and Pakistani fisher persons` delegations to go to the other country to survey the condition of their boats in the custody of the other country.
One of their key demands was arranging an urgent meeting of the Task Force consisting of Indian Coast Guard and Pakistan`s Maritime Security Agency (MSA).
The delegation claimed that the Prime Minister responded to their demands positively.
"He (Singh) assured the team that efforts will be taken by the UPA government to release the Pakistani fisherpeople in Indian jails along with their boats ? as early as possible. He suggested that he could only expect a reciprocal similar action from the Pakistan government," it said.