In an irony of fate, an Indian fisherman died of heart attack in a Karachi jail hours before he was to be released, along with 218 others, by Pakistan as a “goodwill gesture”, according to Gujarat Fishermen Association.
Jeeva Bhagwan (37), whose name was on the list of 219 fishermen released on Thursday, hailed from Khan Village in Una tehsil of Gir Somnath district of Gujarat, Veljibhai Masani, senior vice president of Gujarat Fishermen Association, said on Thursday night.
He died of heart attack on Wednesday, Masani told PTI.
The fishermen were freed from Malir jail on instructions from the Interior Ministry as a goodwill gesture, jail superintendent Hasan Sehto said.
With the release of the fishermen on Thursday, the total number of Indian fishermen freed from Pakistani jails as “goodwill gesture” in the last 10 days reached 439, despite the chill in bilateral ties.
This is the second batch of Indian fishermen released from Pakistan jails since relations between the two countries became tense after the terror attack on an Indian army base in Uri in September for which India has blamed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed terror outfit.
On December 25, the Pakistan government had freed 220 Indian fishermen who were in jail for more than a year as goodwill gesture after Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted counterpart Nawaz Sharif on his birthday.
Sehto said the Indian fishermen who were released on Thursday would be handed over to Indian officials at the Wagah border.
He said that around 110 more Indian fishermen remain in Landhi jail in Karachi.Last March, the Pakistan government had released 87 Indian fishermen who had been languishing in jail in Karachi for the last two and half years.
Pakistan and India frequently arrest each other’s fishermen for violating the territorial boundary.
Poor fishermen from both countries routinely find themselves arrested for illegal fishing as there is no clear demarcation of the boundaries between the two countries in the Arabian Sea near Sir Creek and lack of technology has made life difficult for the fishermen of both the countries.
Last Friday, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency arrested 66 Indian fishermen for illegally fishing in Pakistan’s territorial waters.
Fishermen from both countries end up languishing in jails for years even after serving their sentences and their only hope of getting released is when the governments decide to take goodwill steps.