Rajya Sabha MP Parimal Nathwani recommends formation of Jt Panel, Ex-gratia payment to families of fishermen caught by Pakistan

Ahmedabad, 30 May 2013

There have been incidents of Pakistani marines taking in custody the innocent fisherman belonging to coastal areas of Gujarat-Saurashtra along with their boats and fishing equipment without any obvious crime. The families of such fisherman on the other end wait for their bread-earners for long and face problems of their own sustenance and survival.

Mr. Parimal Nathwani, the Rajya Sabha Member, who is also a native of Jamnagar, is very well aware of the woes of such fishermen. He therefore represented the case of the fishermen at the highest level in the country. He has written letters giving details to the President Mr. Pranav Mukharjee, the Vice President Mr. Mohd. Hamid Ansari, the Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh, the Congress President Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, Foreign Minister Mr. Salman Khurshid and Minister for Minority Affairs Mr. K Rahman Khan.

Mr. Nathwani stated that out of 535 Indian prisoners in Pakistan Jail at a given point of time, 483 were estimated to be the Indian fishermen. He further said that the innocent fisherman inadvertently and innocently cross the territorial waters for the want of more catch and get caught by the Pakistani marines. Pakistan authorities seize their boats and fishing equipment, term them as infiltrates and put them behind the bars. He further stated that in absence of any physical boarder like barbed wires etc. in the sea, the fishermen never realize when they enter territory of the other country.

Such illiterate and innocent fishermen are confined to Pak jails along with the notorious criminals and they are treated as spies and infiltrators, he said. Mr. Nathwani expected that the case of such fishermen should be dealt separately, exclusively and quickly by both the countries. He wished for such a mechanism under which such fishermen should be let free if nothing objectionable i.e., weapons, drugs or illegal materials/ substances found from them. The relatives of such fishermen back home seldom know the whereabouts of their people and doubt whether they are actually alive or dead. The woman folk of such fisherman families, in absence of any vocational education, skill etc., find it difficult to get proper employment and maintain themselves, he said and added that the local authorities too appear helpless in such a situation to help.

In these circumstances, Mr. Nathwani said, the top most authorities of both the countries must work together to find solution to this issue. He suggested that a joint panel consisting of retired Supreme Court Judges of both the countries should handle the cases of such fishermen on the spot, decide, recommend and advise the competent authorities to let the fisherman free or subject them to the judicial trial etc. Such an arrangement will enable a mechanism under which the families of the fisherman will also receive the correct information back home, he said.

The Rajya Sabha Member has suggested to the extent that the respective authorities of both the countries should provide some ex-gratia payment to the families of the fishermen caught so that they sustain and survive.

The different authorities to whom Mr. Nathwani has written have acknowledged the representation of Mr. Nathwani and the plight of innocent fishermen, thus, got the audience at the top most level in the country.

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