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Fishermen Freed, But 57 Boats Still Stranded in Karachi Port

Velhibhai Masani, convener of fishermen cell of Gujarat BJP, has demanded that Union Government should arrange for a visit of a delegation of boat owners from the state to Karachi, where as many as 57 fishing boats/trawlers are anchored.

Masani, who is also the vice president of Gujarat Fishermen Association, said these boats were captured by Pakistan Maritime Security Agency over the past few years after they allegedly strayed into Pakistani waters.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had assured in May this year that these boats would be released alongwith 151 Indian fishermen.

The fishermen were released, but the boats needed repairs, and therefore a delegation should be able to visit Karachi, said Masani, who has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard.

"It will take nearly one month to repair these boats to make them seaworthy," he told PTI.

Last month, Masani visited Pakistan as a part of delegation for inspecting the anchored vessels. The delegation comprised members of fishermen's organisations and Gujarat government officials.

Pakistan Prime Minister, a day before his much-talked- about visit to India to attend swearing-in of Narendra Modi, had ordered that these boats be released, alongwith the arrested fishermen.

While as many as 151 fishermen returned to India, the boats are yet to be returned.

According to Masani, a total of 853 Indian boats are in custody of Pakistan, anchored at various ports of the country.

Meanwhile, P C Malli, deputy director of fisheries department of Gujarat, who was also a part of the delegation which visited Karachi last month, told PTI that a report of the visit had been submitted to the Gujarat government.

According to Malli, the repairs would cost on an average Rs two lakh per boat.

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PLACES: Pakistan
SECTION: International
OUTLOOK 09 August, 2014
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