Over 200 Indian fishermen are presently in Pakistan’s custody, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Wednesday said.
“In respect to Pakistan, as per figures provided by Pakistan authorities on July 1, 2014 under a bilateral information exchange mechanism, there are 210 Indian fishermen and 37 fishermen believed to be Indians (nationality status awaiting confirmation) currently in Pakistan’s custody,” she told in Lok Sabha while replying to a question.
In addition, there are 740 Indian fishing boats believed to be in Pakistan’s custody.
“The government has received information that 61 Indian fishermen and 11 boats have been apprehended by Pakistan authorities on November 19, 2014,” she said.
In respect to Sri Lanka, as on November 24, 2014, there are 38 Indian fishermen in their custody for alleged violations along with 82 fishing vessels.
She said Indian fishermen and boats have also been detained by other countries in India’s maritime neighbourhood like Iran, Bangladesh and Qatar where 30, 70 and three fishermen respectively have been detained.
She said the recent incident involving apprehension and award of death sentence to five Indian fishermen on October 30 by High Court of Colombo has been successfully resolved following “sustained” efforts by government including at the highest level when on November 19 Sri Lanka President granted full remission of the sentence to all five fishermen.
“Government continues with these multi-pronged efforts to ensure that our fishermen can pursue their livelihood in a safe, secure and sustainable manner,” she said.
She said since 2009, Indian Coast Guard has been conducting community interaction programmes for fishermen through the year in coordination with state fisheries department and other stakeholders.
She said for issues being faced by Indian fishermen in Tamil Nadu, the state government has set up a round-the-clock control room at the Coastal Security Group headquarters Chennai to attend to emergency calls from fishermen.