198 Indian Fishermen return home to India in the dark

Beyond Closing of International gates via Wagah Attari JCP 

Rashmi Talwar

WAGAH- ATTARI BORDER (AMRITSAR), MAY 12: As Pakistan battled with political and social turmoil in their streets, Indian fishermen imprisoned in Pakistan finally reached Lahore station from Karachi much beyond the assigned time at 7 pm today. A senior official told the writer that several unscheduled stops were made due to the ongoing upheaval in Pakistan, following the sudden arrest-and-release of its former PM Imran Khan which led to public tempers spilling onto the streets.

However, despite the uncontrollable situation in the neighboring country, 198 Indian fishermen were brought amidst tight security, to Lahore via Allama Iqbal Express train from Karachi by the Edhi Foundation. Reportedly of the 200 to be repatriated to India two had died. Their bodies may cross over tomorrow.

The Indian fishermen were incarcerated in Karachi’s infamous Malir Jail for years. The journey from Karachi takes nearly 23 hours on normal days. The prisoners were expected to reach by 2 Pm and at the most their repartition to India would have been possible before both the countries ritualistic ‘Beating Retreat ceremony’ with the lowering of the respective country flags and closing of the international gateways.

But was delayed due to abnormal conditions prevailing. Pakistan’s Edhi Foundation Information Bureau Lahore, informed that many of these fishermen had completed their jail sentences years ago. The fishermen were arrested for crossing the invisible Maritime borders of the  Indian Ocean.

More fishermen thus imprisoned in Pakistan would be released next month, stated the charitable foundation’s press release. it was seen that the Indian prisoners were being handed over remuneration money for work done in prison over the years, at Lahore station.

Being all smiles anticipating their return to their motherland, one Bhasker had anointed his forehead with three strokes of saffron lines and a single white vertical line cutting through them like a ‘Trishul’, adorned by many Hindu castes in South India.

The prisoners were taken in a fleet of tempo traveler mini buses to Wagah from Lahore station along with the fleet of security vehicles. Volunteers of the Edhi Foundation in red Edhi T-shirts could be seen assisting in the formal clearance of the prisoners before being seated for the onward journey to Wagah.

Till the filing of this report at 9.30 pm, the formalities of immigration for repatriated Indian prisoners from Pakistan on the Indian side were ongoing.