As many as 167 Indian fishermen are languishing in jails of Pakistan and Sri Lanka as on date, the government told Rajya Sabha on Thursday.
As on date, 20 fishermen are in Sri Lankan custody, while another 147 are in Pakistani jails, India’s Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh stated in a written reply in the Upper House.
Singh said the government regularly takes up the issue with the governments of the two countries and added that over the last two years, Sri Lanka has released 708 Indian fishermen, while Pakistan has released 858.
“Our High Commissions in Colombo and Islamabad provide humanitarian and legal assistance to the apprehended fishermen. “With Sri Lanka, a Joint Working Group (JWG) on Fisheries has been set up as a bilateral institutional mechanism to help find a permanent solution to all fishermen issues,” Singh said.
Responding to another question, M J Akbar, MoS in the MEA, said, “208 Indians (61 civilians and 147 fishermen) are believed to be in Pakistani jails.” He said 438 fishermen were released by Pakistan in two batches on December 20, 2016 and January 6 this year.