The body of Bhikha Lakha Shiyal, 35, an Indian fisherman from Garal village of Junagadh district in Gujarat is finally being sent home on Saturday by a PIA flight.
He had passed away in Malir jail, Karachi on December 19, 2013. Bhikha's wife passed away two years ago and he has a son and a daughter.
Confirming this Indian activist Jatin Desai said that his body would be sent home and this was confirmed by the Gujarat government's fishery department. Two officers from the department will take the body in an ambulance from Mumbai airport to Junagadh, he said. Bhika and his other colleagues were arrested on October 25, 2013 when their boat entered Pakistan waters. He died in jail due to asthma, and his body was kept at the Edhi Center, Sohrab Goth in Karachi while his nationality was being established. Mr. Desai said his nationality was not verified till the time of his death.
Sources in the Indian High Commission had said that his nationality was confirmed and official notes have been sent to the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Another Indian fisherman who was arrested in January, 2013, died in hospital in Landhi jail, Karachi, on February 4. Kishore Bhagwan who was arrested along with 54 others by the Maritime Security Agency in January 2013, ran away from jail in February. He was rearrested in December last year when a police patrol found him loitering on the streets near the PIB colony in Gulshan e Iqbal in Karachi. Jail authorities say he died of a heart attack. The process to send his body back to India was underway, foreign office sources said.
Delays in sending back the bodies of fisherman are not uncommon in both countries. In 2012 Ramjibhai Vala, an Indian fisherman died in a Pakistani jail and his body was sent to India only after 45 days. The same year Nawaz Ali, a Pakistani fisherman, died in an Ahmedabad hospital. His body reached Pakistan after 25 days of his death. In July 2013, Dadubhai Makwana, an Indian fisherman from Junagadh district, died in Malir jail, Karachi. His body came to India after 21 days.
According to the Agreement on Consular Access signed between Pakistan and India on May 21, 2008, both countries are required to exchange lists of prisoners in each other's custody twice a year, on January 1 and July 1, respectively. On January 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a list of 281 Indian prisoners (49 civilian and 232 fishermen) in Pakistan to the High Commission of India in Islamabad.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs also handed over the list of Pakistani prisoners. According to this list, there are a total of 396 Pakistanis in Indian jails (257 civilian and 139 fishermen).
Keywords: Indo-Pak fisherman arrest