Millennium Post (Kolkata)

‘266 Indian fishermen languishin­g in foreign jails’


As many as 266 Indian fishermen are languishin­g in foreign jails, the government on Tuesday said, adding that efforts are being made to secure their early release.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying Parshottam Rupala said, “As per the informatio­n available with the Ministry of External Affairs, there are 266 Indian fishermen languishin­g in foreign jails”.

“There are 41 fishermen went from Tamil Nadu in Sri Lanka, 184 fishermen went from Gujarat in Pakistan, 10 fishermen in Bahrain and 31 fishermen in the Kingdom of Saudi

Arabia,” the minister said. As per the data available, 1,172 fishing boats from Gujarat and 87 fishing boats from Tamil Nadu are under the custody of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, respective­ly. “The Government attaches highest priority to the safety, security and welfare of Indian fishermen. As soon as cases of apprehensi­on of Indian fishermen and their fishing boats are reported, immediate steps are taken by Indian Missions and Posts to seek consular access, ensure their welfare and also pursue their early release and repatriati­on along with their boats,” Rupala asserted.

The minister said that consular Officers of Missions/Posts make regular visits to local jails and detention centres to ascertain the condition of Indian fishermen lodged in foreign jails and provide requisite help and support, including legal assistance through the Indian Community Welfare Fund.

Rupala informed that Missions/Post abroad also approached the law enforcemen­t agencies to complete the investigat­ion and judicial proceeding­s at the earliest possible.

“The focus of the Government’s efforts is on securing the early release of fishermen,” he said. The minister said steps are taken regularly by the Indian

Coast Guard to guide Indian fishermen not to cross the perceived Internatio­nal Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) through various community interactio­n programmes for the fishing community. “The Indian Coast Guard ships and aircraft maintain close surveillan­ce along the perceived IMBL and shepherd the Indian fishing boats towards Indian waters to prevent their apprehensi­on by Maritime Security Agencies of neighbouri­ng countries, if required,” Rupala said. The minister said the govt remains continuous­ly engaged in early release and repatriati­on of Indian fishermen along with the fishing boats.

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