The 87 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen freed by Pakistan, who were stranded for more than 30 hours at the Wagah border, were today allowed to cross into their homeland after all legal formalities were completed.
“Today we have handed over 87 Indian nationals mostly fishermen to BSF India,” Pakistan Rangers spokesman Muhammad Asif told PTI adding the Indians were handed over after meeting the legal requirements.
Owing to lack of coordination between the Pakistan Rangers and Foreign Ministry, the Indian nationals who were released from the Landhi Jail, Karachi on March 6 could not be handed over to the Indian authorities.
They remained stranded at the Wagah border yesterday as the Rangers said “the Indian officials concerned did not turn up (at Wagah)”.
Earlier, Pakistan Rangers official Major Waheed said that all arrangements to hand over the released prisoners to the Indian authorities were made but none of India’s foreign ministry officials reached Wagah to sign the documents to hand over the prisoners.
After the release of the 87 prisoners, another 457 Indians remain in jail in Karachi and most of them are fishermen arrested for territorial violation.
Landhi Jail deputy superintendent Shakir Shah said the 87 Indians had been in jail for more than two years.
They had completed their sentences and were freed after verification of their travel documents sent by the Indian authorities.
Both Indian and Pakistani fishermen are often arrested for illegal fishing since the Arabian Sea border is not clearly defined and many boats lack the technology to fix their precise location.