India Returns Pakistan’s Goodwill Gesture; Sends Home Prisoners

prisoner steps into homeland after 36 years

As Pakistan has released the Indian prisoners from their jails as a sign of goodwill gesture ahead of the nations’ Independence Day, India too does the same.

India on Monday sent home 7 Pakistan civilian prisoners, the Ministry of External Affairs confirmed.

“India attaches high priority to addressing humanitarian issues including early release and repatriation of Indian fishermen and prisoners in Pakistan’s custody. The release of 178 Indian prisoners, including 174 fishermen, has been secured in 2018, so far,” read a statement from the Ministry.

Earlier in the day, Islamabad had released 29 Indian prisoners to mark Pakistan’s Independence Day on August 14.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement: “This is in line with Pakistan’s consistent policy of not politicising humanitarian issues. It is our hope that the Indian side will also reciprocate in a similar manner.”

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Among the 29 Indian prisoners released is Gajanand Sharma, who was imprisoned at Central Jail in Lahore for the past 36 years.

“This is a gift for our entire nation from the central government on the Independence Day,” Punjab-based activist Sehdev Sharma, who received Gajanand Sharma at Attari-Wagah border, told the media.

Fishermen from both sides of the International Border occasionally stray into each other’s waters, owing to lack of clear demarcation of maritime boundaries during their fishing trips and are caught and put into jails for a longer period of time. However, civil society organizations around the world have been urging New Delhi and Islamabad to enter into an agreement for defining and enforcing proper international maritime laws.

On August 7, India repatriated 14 Pakistani fishermen, two months prior to which Pakistan repatriated an ailing 20-year-old Indian prisoner, Jitendra Arjunwar, on humanitarian grounds. Arjunwar, who is suffering from Thalassemia, unintentionally crossed into Pakistan following an argument with his family in 2013.

In January, Pakistan set free 147 Indian fishermen as a goodwill gesture, who later crossed into India through the Wagah border.


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