A six-member team of Gujarat Fisheries department on Saturday took custody of the 218 Indian fishermen, who were released by the Pakistan government as a ‘goodwill gesture’ at the Wagah border, a government official said.
The team, headed by K R Patni, has been camping in Amritsar since January 5 to receive the freed fishermen and bringing them to Gujarat.
“We have received the 218 fishermen early this morning today at the Wagah border. Most of them belong to different places like Jamnagar, Junagarh, Gir Somnath, Verawal, Navsari of Gujarat, Daman and Diu, while few hail from other states,” Patni told PTI from Amritsar over phone.
The first batch of fishermen will leave for Vadodara by train this evening, he said, adding that they have also requested the Railway department to make necessary arrangements for fishermen to reach Vadodara from Amritsar.
The fishermen were freed from Malir jail in Karachi on January 5. This was 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.
The first batch of 220 fishermen was released on December 25 last. These fishermen had allegedly strayed into Pakistan’s territorial waters, bringing the total number of Indian fishermen freed from Pakistani jails as “goodwill gesture” in the last 10 days to 438, despite the chill in bilateral ties.
According to Patni, fisherman Jeeva Bhagwan from Gir Somnath district, who was also lodged in the Karachi jail, died of a cardiac arrest just a day before the release of his compatriots.
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.