The fishermen, most of whom hail from Andhra Pradesh, were handed over to the Border Security Force by the Pakistan Rangers.

20 Andhra fishermen handed over to India by Pakistan to return home soon
news Fishing Tuesday, January 07, 2020 - 08:31

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, adding they were issued 'emergency travel certificates' before leaving Pakistan.

Immediately after crossing over to the Indian side, the fishermen underwent a medical examination, officials said. Some of the released men bowed down and kissed the earth after entering the Indian territory.

The released fishermen were identified as S Kishore, N Dhanraju, Garmarthi, Ram Babu, S Appa Rao, G Rama Rao, B Appanna, K Matti, M Guruvulu, N Appanna, N Narsing, V Samuel, K Yarrayya, D S Narain, K Raju, K Venkata, S Kaliyan, Bhavirudu, Samson Rao and Gir Somnath.

Talking to reporters, released fisherman Gir Somnath said, "We were arrested at sea by the Pakistan Coast Guard for crossing over to Pakistan waters in November 2018."

Gir described the arrest in Pakistan as the "worst time" of his life.

"We were arrested while earning our livelihood in the sea. Spending 14 months in jail while being away from our families, is not a short period," he 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.

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.

According to Times of India, the fishermen are expected to reach Andhra Pradesh by January 8. 

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.


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