14 Pakistani fishermen return from India, 52 still languish in its jails

 As the fathers, brothers, uncles and friends of the 14 Pakistani fishermen returning from Indian jails lined up on platform number eight of the Cantonment Railway Station for the Night Coach Express to arrive on Saturday afternoon, they took out fistfuls of red rose petals from plastic bags to shower on the fishermen. A few rose petals also fell to the ground, which were quickly collected by tiny hands. A toddler in brown shalwar kameez squatted on the floor to gather the fallen petals.
He was Rihal, son of Faiz Mohammad, one of the returning fishermen. Rihal had come to the train station all the way from Sujawal district with his uncle Mumtaz Ali. “He is only two-and-a-half. When his father was arrested at sea by the Indian Coast Guard after unknowingly having crossed over to that side, he was only one year old but fearing that he would not have any recollection of his father, we have been showing him his father’s photographs,” said the uncle
“When we were informed that Faiz’s name was also among the fishermen being released from Indian jails this time we were overjoyed. Rihal watched his mother and grandmother crying with joy and started crying too. I have told him that he will meet his father today. He just can’t wait,” he said.
Asked how the family had been coping financially with one earning member away, Mumtaz said that Faiz was his elder brother and with him away the responsibility of taking care of the entire family fell on his own shoulders. “Our parents don’t keep well. We have younger siblings too, as well as our wives and children to take care of. I had to feed some 20 to 25 mouths, so I took on the job of driver besides fishing. Whenever there was a big fishing trawler leaving, I would take leave from my job for a week to 10 days to accompany them to make some extra money. Life has been very hectic,” he said.
As the train finally chugged in, families and friends of the fishermen who had come to receive them earnestly scanned the compartments passing them by. Suddenly they heard loud cheers from inside one and started running alongside the train until it stopped. Sons were united with fathers, brothers embraced brothers but the most tearful reunion was between Faiz and his little boy. Mumtaz quickly let his brother pull the boy into his arms as the little boy came face to face with his father he had only known through his pictures until now. Faiz kissed his little boy who was crying and promised him to never leave him alone ever again. “I will work as a labourer if need be, but I won’t go to fish in the sea anymore, I will be with you and see you grow big and strong,” he said to him.
Among the returning fishermen were Hamid Ali, Laung Ali, Manzoor Ali, Dilbar, Imam Ali, Yaseen, Rajab Ali, Sajjad Ali, Yousuf, Niaz Hussain, Siraj, Ali Asghar and Faisal Ali. All hail from Sujawal district. All were arrested on the same night at around 2am some 13 months ago. “There were three or four of us in five small boats. The sea was rough and we didn’t realise when we had drifted over to the other side,” said Faisal Ali, who also told Dawn that he had only been married for a couple of months when the unfortunate incident took place.
Beatings in jail
About his time in an Indian prison, he said they enjoyed beating him and the other Pakistani prisoners with him. “We were made to work extra hard and given very little food to eat. They referred to us as ‘Dushman’ [enemy],” he said. “But there is one positive thing that came out of all this,” he said.
“Before this I used to be a chain smoker. But when I requested the jail staff for a biri [cigarette] I would only get a tight slap in return. I have not smoked in 13 months and now when someone offered me a cigarette after crossing the Wagah Border, I didn’t feel like smoking. At least my bride would be happy,” he said.
The Pakistani fishermen were handed over to Pakistani authorities at Wagah in Lahore on Sept 26. After a day’s stay at the Edhi Home they were brought to Karachi with the help of the Edhi Foundation. Among others, they were received at the station by chairman of the Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum Mohammad Ali Shah and his volunteers with representatives of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society Limited.
After the return of these 14 fishermen, there are 52 more left in Indian jails, whose return is impatiently awaited by their poor families.



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South Punjab News : 14 Pakistani fishermen return from India, 52 still languish in its jails
14 Pakistani fishermen return from India, 52 still languish in its jails
The rail administration has nominated four divisional superintendents as focal persons to properly transfer the whole land of railways to it. According to the report, only 63,500 acres of land is transferred on its name out of total 168,000 acres.
South Punjab News
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