KARACHI: Nine Pakistani fishermen have reportedly been arrested by the Indian Coast Guard for having crossed over to Indian waters late on Saturday night. Their fishing boat was also confiscated.
All the fishermen hail from Ali Akbar Shah Goth of Karachi’s Ibrahim Hyderi.
According to reports, all nine crew members of the boat, Al Ayesha, were escorted to Okha port before being handed over to the local marine police for investigation.
Indian media outlets claimed that the ICG ship Meera Behn, had noticed a Pakistani fishing boat in Indian waters while patrolling close to the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
Al Ayesha was then chased and boarded by Meera Behn’s crew following which the fisherman were arrested for fishing illegally in Indian waters.
Only recently, on the occasion of independence days of both India and Pakistan, the two countries had released fishermen arrested at sea.
Despite the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea being against the arrest of fishermen at sea, both India and Pakistan have been arresting fishermen for violation of territorial limits.
Pakistani fishermen are often arrested by the ICG at Sir Creek — a disputed territory between the two countries. The fishermen, meanwhile, complain that due to no demarcation in the sea, they can never tell if they are within their territory or have moved past it.
Ali Akbar Shah Goth, where the men arrested on Saturday hailed from, is predominately a Rohingya community area. The Burmese settled there also call themselves Bengalis. However, unfortunately, many living there are unable to prove their nationality as they don’t have a national database and registration authority identity card made as yet.
When the Indian government is not sure of their nationality, it won’t know where to deport them after they have served their sentence until Pakistan recognises them as its own. Most such fishermen from Pakistan perish in Indian jails even years after serving their sentence until their identity and nationality is confirmed.
Then even after being released from jails the fishermen, be they Indian or Pakistani, never again get to see their boats, which they build themselves and which are worth hundreds of thousands of rupees.