89 Indian prisoners set free by Pakistan

Last Updated: Thursday, April 14, 2011 - 18:27

Karachi: Pakistan on Thursday set free 89
Indian fishermen as part of a process initiated by the two
countries to speed up the release of people held in each
other`s prisons for inadvertently crossing land and maritime
boundaries.

The freed Indians were now on their way to the border
city of Lahore from where they would head home to India.

The Superintendent of jail in Malir, Ghulam Qadir,
said that the 89 fishermen were released and sent by two buses
to the city of Lahore from where they will be handed over to
Indian authorities at the Wagah border crossing.

The fishermen were released just two weeks after the
Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met in Mohali on the
sidelines of the World Cup semi-final match between the two
countries.

Their release was a follow-up to a meeting of the
Interior and Home Secretaries of India and Pakistan in New
Delhi last month. Both countries had exchanged lists of
prisoners during the meeting of the Interior and Home
Secretaries.

"The prisoners were released today and given some
personal belongings, gifts and money to help them in their
journey," Qadir said.

He said the fishermen were arrested from Pakistan`s
waters in violation of the maritime agreement between both
countries over the last two years.

Qadir said hopefully the Indian fishermen would cross
the Wagah border tomorrow.

Nasir Aslam Zahid, Chairman of the NGO Prisoners
Welfare and Legal Aid Committee, told reporters that Pakistani
authorities had granted consular access to another 33 Indian
prisoners being held in Malir Jail.

They too will be released in the near future after the
completion of certain formalities, he said.

"It is our endeavour to remove hurdles and delays in
the release of detained fishermen on both sides of the
border," Zahid said.

On April 11, India released 39 Pakistani prisoners.

The two countries are scheduled to exchange complete
lists of prisoners on July 1 under an agreement on consular
access signed in May 2008.

The process of releasing prisoners, which suffered a
setback in the wake of the Mumbai attacks in November 2008,
has picked up pace after the two countries recently agreed to
resume their stalled peace process.

Pakistan and India frequently seize each other`s
fishermen, accusing them of violating their respective zones
in the Arabian Sea.

Last year in September Pakistan released around 100
prisoners, including 80 fishermen jailed in Karachi.

The Indian prisoners released today were arrested
between September 2009 and January last year, TV news channels
reported.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, April 14, 2011 - 18:27

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