Pakistani authorities have arrested 12 Indian fishermen and seized two boats on charges of illegally entering the country's waters, taking the total number of fishermen arrested since last month to 78.
The Maritime Security Agency arrested the 12 fishermen while they were allegedly fishing over 230 km inside Pakistani waters on Friday, spokesman Commander Mohammad Farooq said. They were handed over to the Docks police station yesterday.
Fifty-seven Indian fishermen were arrested in October while nine more were arrested earlier this month. They have all been charged under the Foreigners Act and the Fishery Act.
Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum representative Sami Memon told the media that following the arrest of the 12 fishermen, more than 160 Indian fishermen were currently in Pakistani jails.
Memon said some 676 Indian fishermen were released by Pakistan this year while India had freed 64 Pakistani fishermen. There are still 125 Pakistani fishermen in Indian jails, he said.
Though Pakistani fishermen stray into Indian waters, records show that the number of Indian fishermen caught in Pakistani waters was many times higher than the Pakistani fishermen caught in Indian waters.
The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum has suggested that both countries should jointly issue licences to fishermen and declare a 100-km zone – 50 km on each side of the maritime border – as a buffer zone where the registered fishermen could fish and easily be identified whenever they are caught by security forces of either country.
The MSA frequently arrests Indian fishermen on charges of violating Pakistan's EEZ. The fishermen sometimes languish in jail for months even after completing their prison terms.
After the two countries revived their peace process last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, they took several steps to speed up the release of fishermen.