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14 Pakistani fishermen released from Kerala jail

Thiruvananthapuram, Apr 4, 2013, (PTI): 12:32 IST
Fourteen Pakistani fishermen, lodged in the central prison here after being taken into custody by the Indian Navy six months back for crossing into the Indian waters near Lakshadweep Islands, have been sent back to their country.

The Pakistani nationals left for the Wagah border by train last evening escorted by Kerala police personnel after completing the official procedures for their release, ADGP (Prisons), Alexandar Jacob said.

Kerala police would hand them over them to Intelligence Bureau officials, who in turn, would entrust the group to their Pakistani counterparts, Jacob said.

The Pakistani fishermen and an Iranian were taken into custody by the Navy after their boat was intercepted near Kavarati in Lakshadweep some six months back, he said.
They were detained under the Indian Passport Act and the allied laws as they did not have any travel documents with them at the time of their arrest, he said.

Prison sources said since the Lakshadweep administration did not have the legal authority to handle cases like this involving foreigners, the Navy first brought them to Kochi and later shifted them to the Poojappura Central Jail here.

The detainees were released after the IB made an 'extensive' inquiry and confirmed that none of them were wanted in any terrorism-related cases, sources said.

The fishermen claimed they had sailed a long distance in search of fish stock and got caught in the ocean currents by the time they reached Lakshadweep area.

The IB officials later informed their Pakistani counterparts about the detention of their nationals here.

The procedures for sending them back to Pakistan were completed after getting permission from the Central government and the local court, they said.

The Iranian national is still under detention as the due procedures have to be completed in his case, sources added.

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