22 Indian fishermen arrested by Pakistani authorities

22 Indian fishermen arrested by Pakistani authorities

Pakistani authorities have arrested 22 Indian fishermen and seized four boats for allegedly violating the country's maritime boundary, an official spokesman said today.

The fishermen were detained by the Maritime Security Agency during routine patrolling yesterday, a spokesman for the agency said.

Four Indian boats with 22 crew members were "apprehended for poaching... approximately 70 nautical miles" inside Pakistani waters, he said.

The fishermen were handed over to a police station in Karachi for further investigation.
Following yesterday's arrests, the total number of Indian fishermen detained by the MSA this month has risen to 53. Thirty-one fishermen were detained along with 14 boats on January 21.

India and Pakistan arrest hundreds of fishermen every year on charges of violating their maritime boundary.

In a single sweep in November last year, the MSA arrested 122 Indian fishermen and seized 23 fishing boats on charges of poaching.

The two countries have taken steps in recent months to expedite the release of fishermen who have completed their jail terms.

Earlier this month, Pakistan freed 179 Indian fishermen who had completed their sentences. Another 360 Indian prisoners, mostly fishermen, remain in jail.
Last week, the India-Pakistan Judicial Committee on Prisoners called on the MSA and India's Coast Guard to finalise a mechanism for the release of fishermen who inadvertently cross the maritime boundary.

The panel recommended that the fishermen should be repatriated by sea lanes along with their boats.