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July 25, 2020

Call to free Pak, Indian prisoners

Lahore

July 25, 2020

LAHORE :Various civil society organisations and prominent citizens of Pakistan and India have jointly demanded Pakistani and Indian governments release and repatriate all fish workers and female prisoners of each other’s country.

The fish workers were arrested for crossing their country’s water “inadvertently”. They have asked both the PMs to release them on “humanitarian grounds” on the occasion of their Independence Days on Aug 14 and 15.

The letter was signed by organisations, including Pakistan-India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD); South Asia Partnership Pakistan (SAP); Legal Aid Office, Karachi; Edhi Foundation; Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum; Aman Ki Asha; National Fishworkers’ Forum, Aaghaz-e-Dosti etc.

The prominent persons include Admiral (R) L Ram Das, Mahesh Bhatt, IA Rehman, Nandita Das, Faisal Edhi, Syeda Hamid, Beena Sarwar, Anjum Rajabali, Teesta Setalvad, Mohammad Tahseen, Karamat Ali, Haya Zahid, Anis Haroon, Tapan Bose, Vijayan MJ, Jatin Desai among others.

The letter says: “Both the countries regularly repatriate prisoners as a goodwill gesture during Independence Day celebrations, or on the eve of major religious celebrations. Given the humanitarian crisis posed by COVID-19, we demand you repatriate these prisoners so that they can reunite with their families.”

Time and again both the countries have accepted that these fishermen are innocent. Once arrested, they have to spend around two years in another country’s prison. They suffer and so do the families.

The lists exchanged between India and Pakistan on July 1 stated that 270 Indian fishermen and 97 Pakistani fishermen were in each other’s prisons. In addition to that 54 Indian civilians and 265 Pakistanis are also in the custody of each other’s country.

India Peoples’ Forum for Peace and Democracy demanded release and repatriation of all the fish workers and female prisoners from each other's custody, revival of the judicial committee on prisoners immediately, call a meeting as the last meeting was held in India in October 2013; allow Pakistani and Indian medical teams to examine prisoners of their countries and release fishing boats that can sail with some repair work, if necessary. A team can also be sent to inspect.

Pakistan had released 57 Indian fishing boats in 2015 and had held out an assurance that it would release 22 more but to no avail, they said and demanded the governments implement the Agreement on Consular Access in letter and spirit and give consular access within the three months of arrest, complete nationality verification within three months of consular access.

transferred: Around 31 traffic sector incharges have been transferred and eight sector inchages who have been posted in same sector for a long time have been closed to headquarters. Incharge Mozang Sanaullah, Incharge Ichhra Shafi, Incharge Wahdat Road, Incharge Old Airport and other sector incharges were closed to headquarters. A number of promoted senior wardens were posted as sector incharges. Similarly, Usman Mazhar was posted as incharge Misri Shah, Sajid as incharge Old Airport and Afzal as Incharge Defense.