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Home > News > PTI

Gujarat urges India to take up boat issue with Pak

September 13, 2005 17:07 IST

Gujarat government on Tuesday urged India to raise the issue of release of over 200 boats seized by Pakistan while arresting fishermen during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with President Pervez Musharraf in New York on Wednesday.

In all, 435 Indians, including 371 fishermen, were released by Pakistan while India set free 152 Pakistani nationals at Wagah border yesterday even as 24 Indian fishermen - alongwith four of their boats - were detained by Pakistan in Sir Creek area, off the Karachi coast, for allegedly entering into their territorial waters on Saturday.

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Pakistan has been routinely releasing Indian fishermen through the land border but retaining their boats, the only source of their livelihood. The number of seized boats is 203.

"This attitude of Pakistani government of not releasing the boats has forced the debt driven fishermen to commit suicides in the state," state Agriculture and Fishing Minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama told Press Trust of India in Vadodara on Tuesday.

It is for the first time that Pakistan has released 1,142 Indian fishermen - mostly from Gujarat - in three phases over the period of nine months but without their boats, he said.

"Prior to this year, the fishermen released were allowed to travel with their boats and would touch Okha port in Kutch," he said adding, "now without these boats, these fishermen find it difficult to survive.

Also, they have to repay the loans taken for the boats." The total worth of the 203 mechanised boats is around Rs 50 crore, Chudasama said adding, "We want the prime minister to raise this issue during his meeting with Musharraf."

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