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18 Indian fishermen arrested for violating territorial waters

KARACHI: Pakistan Maritime Security Agency on Wednesday carried out an operation in the open sea and arrested 18 Indian fishermen and seized two shipping boats.

According to a PMSA spokesman, the arrested Indian fishermen were fishing in Pakistan territorial waters near the coast of Sujawal. He said the arrested Indian fishermen were handed over to Docks police after initial investigation.

The National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) in India also confirmed that that fisherman were apprhended off the coast off the state of Gujrat.

It confirmed that two boats with twelve fishermen on board had sailed from the coastal town of Porbandar a week ago, while six others on the third boat belonged to Okha town.The fishermen were apprehended near the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in the Arabian sea.

In August, at least nine Pakistani fishermen were taken into custody by Indian Coast Guard after they allegedly crossed over to the Indian territorial waters in the Arabian Sea.The crew and boat were escorted to Okha port and have been handed over to local Marine Police for further investigation.

Read more: India apprehend nine Pakistani fishermen

The arrests came a week after Pakistan released 26 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture before formation of the new government.

Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) chairman Muhammad Ali Shah had said that the maritime boundary between India and Pakistan was not demarcated leading to arrests of fishermen from both countries.

He said that fishermen and their families on both sides of the border faced detentions and financial losses for years. He added that fishing was banned in June and July and fishermen, who set sail in the first week of August, might have mistakenly crossed the undefined boundary in search of better fish catch.

He confirmed that more than 150 other detained fishermen are from Thatta, Sujawal and Badin districts. Indian courts sentenced the fishermen for six months, but Indian authorities kept them up to three years in jail before handing them over to Pakistani authorities, he said.

India and Pakistan have disputes over the alignment of IMBL in the Arabian Sea. The dispute over the waterfront often leads to arrest of fishermen of one country by the security agencies of the other. These fishermen languish in jails of the other country often for years.

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