The Pakistan Rangers handed over 78 Indian prisoners to the Border Security Forces (BSF) at Wagah border on Sunday. The prisoners, 77 of whom were fishermen, and one other Indian prisoner, were released from Landhi jail in Karachi, Pakistan, and were brought to Lahore by train. Thereafter, they were transported to Wagah border in a bus.
Most of the fishermen had been arrested for inadvertently crossing into waters of Pakistan and had completed their sentence in Landhi jail after which they were handed to the BSF.
However, according to media reports, 298 Indian fishermen are still confined in Sindh, Pakistan. It often happens that Indian fishermen continue to languish in the jails of Pakistan even after completing their sentence because of bureaucratic hurdles.
While most of the prisoners are able to make it back home, there are some who don’t. These fishermen unwittingly enter into the territory of Pakistan through waters as it is practically impossible to draw boundaries in that area.
In the month of January, Pakistan had released 219 Indian fishermen. Recently, foreign ministry of Pakistan had handed over a list of 546 Indian prisoners confined in the jails of Pakistan to the High Commission of India in Islamabad.
A list of prisoners is exchanged between India and Pakistan two times a year under the Consular Access Agreement between the two countries that was signed in 2008. However, there are some fishermen for whom returning home becomes impossible as they are convicted either of terrorism or of political activities.