Mansoor Ahmad Khan denies any casualty, claims fishermen were held after they entered 10 km into its EEZ

India on Monday summoned the Pakistan Deputy High Commissioner Mansoor Ahmad Khan to the Ministry of External Affairs here to protest the firing on high seas that killed a fisherman last Friday. Meanwhile, an India-Pakistan civil society organisation urged the Prime Ministers of both countries to bring this “least discussed” issue to the bilateral high table.

Pakistan has been asked to thoroughly investigate the incident and share the results with India at an early date. It was conveyed to him that India condemned the indiscriminate firing on unarmed Indian fishermen by a vessel of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (MSA) near the Indo-Pakistan international maritime boundary line, which led to the death of an Indian fishermen, said MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin.

But Mr. Khan denied there had been any casualty and pointed out that the MSA had arrested 29 Indian fishermen and seized five boats after the fishermen had entered 10 km inside the Pakistani exclusive economic zone.

The flag was raised by Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD), which had informed the media last week about the Pakistan MSA’s firing on Indian boats last Friday.

Naranbhai Sosa (30) was killed during this firing; about 30 of his fishermen colleagues have been arrested and five boats confiscated. Fishermen who escaped detention and returned to India the next day with Sosa’s body claimed they were on the Indian side of the international maritime boundary.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has started speaking on this recurring issue and has strongly criticised the Centre for not paying attention to the plight of fishermen caught in the crossfire of bilateral relations.

Fishing villages and towns in Gujarat’s Saurashtra and Diu are the most-affected areas, where the fear of getting arrested and the confiscation of boats has led to reluctance to go fishing in deep seas. As a result, the economy of fishing villages and towns like Porbandar, Veraval and Mangrol has been affected, points out journalist and PIPFPD secretary Jatin Desai.

In a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the PIPFPD has suggested four action points — an urgent meeting between the Task Force of Indian Coast Guard and Pakistani MSA; repatriation of fishermen by sea along with their boats; implementation of a “No Arrest Policy”; and, arranging meetings between fish-workers of both countries.

At present, around 280 Indian fishermen and about 780 Indian boats are in Pakistani custody. Similarly, around 180 Pakistani fishermen and 125 of their boats are with India.

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