Amritsar, May 13
Pakistan government on Friday night released 198 Indian fishermen at Attari-Wagah border who were caught for crossing the maritime international border.
The fishermen who cross the maritime international border in the Arabian Sea are charged with violation of the Passport Act of the respective countries and are punished for a period of about six months.
The Indian fishermen who were released by the Pakistan government said that they crossed the border while fishing as they were unaware of the border in the sea.
“I was held in Pakistani jails for 5 years. 12 of us were caught while were fishing in two boats for crossing the border. There were no navigation buoys, beacons or marks on the water, and it was difficult for us to identify the border in the sea. I am very happy to be in my country now,” said Biku, one of the fishermen released by the Pakistan government.
He added that there 5-6 Indian fishermen kept in Pakistan jails, and urged the government to help them.
Indian and Pakistani fishermen often cross the international maritime border in the Arabian Sea. They are caught by the respective agencies of both countries.
The issue occurs due to a dispute over Sir Creek between India and Pakistan. India wants to divide the estuary by following the Thalweg doctrine but Pakistan is not ready to do so which is leading it to a dispute.
According to Thalweg doctrine, if a water body is passing between two countries then it must be divided in such a way that both countries should get an equal part of the water body.
This division is impacting a major international Maritime border between Rann of Kutch and Sindh of Pakistan, which in a way is affecting both the countries’ exclusive economic zones.
The Pakistani authorities arrest them when they cross the maritime border, as well as, also seize their boats. The fishermen demanded that those seized boats should be returned back to them.
“We crossed over to Pakistan in the sea, there are no borders there. We were caught in 2018. We request you help those who are still left back in Pakistani jails. They took our boats and they do not return that,” said Ajgar, another fisherman.
The solution to the above issue can be to provide communication and navigation kits to the fisherman by both countries so that they must be aware of the border lines.
To minimize the issue, both countries should spread awareness, train the fisherman, and provide communication and navigation kits to the fisherman on a large scale so that they didn’t cross the borders.
“I was fishing around the border when Pakistani boats came and took us. Many of us are still kept in Pakistani jails, please help them. We would also like to request the government to return our boats too,” said Vijay, a fisherman from Gujarat.