KARACHI: As many as 20 Indian fishermen behind bars in Pakistan for unknowingly having crossed over to this side were released from the District Prison and Correctional Facility, Malir, on Sunday morning.
The fishermen were in jail for the duration of three to five years. All told Dawn that they had no idea that their fishing boats had drifted off towards Pakistan waters.
“It was dark and we thought that we were still in India when we were approached by the Pakistani coast guards in a big white boat. They arrested us for crossing over and seized our boat,” said Suneel Lal, the longest serving prisoner among the 20, who was arrested five years ago.
He said that he was looking forward to meeting his family now, especially his two daughters. “My daughter’s are 20 and 17 years old now. They must have really grown up in these five years,” he said as his eyes grew moist.
Bhavesh Bhika, who has served four years in prison, also said that the boat he was on also drifted towards Pakistan waters at night. “There is no boundary in the sea. We had no way of knowing that we had violated your border,” he added.
“But the jail staff here has been more than kind. We were provided with fresh clothes, soap, shampoo, hair oil, etc. We were also offered good food. There is chicken on the menu four times a week here. Also fish, egg and fruit,” he said.
“I had never seen an Indian jail but it was my fate that I was to see and stay in a Pakistani jail,” said Karshan Khima. He also said that they used to receive letters from their families in India up till 2018. “Then the exchange of posts stopped. Our families don’t know how we are doing and we often wonder about them,” he said.