Pakistan bashing and the fresh tension between the two neighbours after the Pulwama attack on CRPF jawans has left the family of Assam’s Simanta Saikia worried.
Thirty-three-year-old Simanta, along with 20 other fishermen, was arrested by Pakistan Maritime Security Agency off Gujarat coast in the Arabian Sea on October 28 last year. His family was informed a day later by his brother, Diganta, who also works in Gujarat.
The family had sought Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s help for his release from a Pakistan jail. The state government in turn approached the external affairs ministry.
“Following our repeated pleas, the state government had collected his documents from the family recently for verification. We were hoping for good news from Pakistan but we are now worried because of the post-Pulwama tension. The way people are bashing Pakistan and crying for war, we just pray and request the government to ensure that no harm is caused to them (fishermen),” Simanta’s cousin Arup Saikia told DH over phone on Monday from Nabagram village in Golaghat district, about 300 km east of Guwahati.
Not seen son
Simanta is the father of a four-month-old baby boy.
Son of Pradip Saikia, a farmer, Simanta had gone to Gujarat a year ago in search of a job and joined a fishing company. “He has not seen his son. His wife Puja gave birth to their first baby a day before Simanta left for fishing in the Gujarat coast and the next day he was arrested,” Arup said. They were arrested for crossing the maritime border with Pakistan, albeit by mistake.
Assam government on Monday told the state Assembly that according to information provided by the Centre, Simanta was lodged in Landhi jail near Karachi. “The state police has taken up the matter with the central agencies for consular access and the release of the prisoner,” Assam parliamentary affairs minister, Chandra Mohan Patowary told the Assembly.
The matter was raised in the Assembly by BJP MLA Mrinal Saikia.
Many young boys from Assam work in Gujarat as migrant workers.
Youth arrested, beaten
Assam police on Monday arrested Sahanur Islam, 21, in Matia in Goalpara district for an “objectionable post” on Facebook regarding the Pulwama attack. In another incident, a college student, Khairul Alom, was beaten up by an angry mob in Ledo in Tinsukia district for his “pro-Pakistan” comment. This comes a day after Papri Banerjee, an assistant professor of English in Guwahati was detained for her “objectionable comment” against the army in Jammu and Kashmir.