Pak Rangers handover 20 released fishermen to BSF at Wagah Border
Lahore/Attari: The 20 Indian fishermen, who were released from a Pakistani jail on Sunday in a goodwill gesture amidst tense bilateral ties, crossed over to the Indian side through the Attari-Wagah border on Monday.
The fishermen, most of whom hail from Andhra Pradesh, were handed over to the Border Security Force by the Pakistan Rangers, officials said.
Immediately after crossing over to the Indian side, the fishermen underwent a medical examination, officials said.
The fishermen, entered Indian territory on the basis of ’emergency travel certificates’ issued by the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Indian officials said.
The fishermen left for Lahore on Sunday by train after their release from the Malir District Prison in Karachi, Sindh province.
“Upon their arrival, the Edhi Foundation (a Pakistani non-profit social welfare) received them at the Lahore railway station and took them to its centre where they were provided food and new clothes,” a foundation official told PTI.
An official of the Rangers confirmed the handing over of the fishermen to the Indian authorities.
Earlier talking to reporters on his release, fisherman Gir Somnath said, “We were arrested at sea by the Pakistan Coast Guard for crossing over to Pakistan waters in November 2018.”
District Jail Malir Superintendent Aurangzaib Kango said the released Indians were initially sentenced to six months imprisonment. Their release was delayed because of the process of the completion of their documents and nationality confirmation, he said.
Kango said around 200 Indians were still imprisoned in Pakistan of whom 189 are fishermen.
Tension between India and Pakistan spiked following New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5, revoking the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir.
Following this, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic relations with India and also expelled the Indian high commissioner.