KARACHI/THATTA: “Leaving behind our boats and catch, we dived into the water and swam as quickly as we could to the boat at a distance. That’s how eight of us escaped,” disclosed 35-year-old Dhani Bux a day after a fisherman of their group was arrested with their three fishing boats seized by the Indian naval task force on the pretext of crossing the controversial Sir Creek near Zero Point in Badin.
“The incident took place at around 9am on Tuesday. There were nine of us fishing in four boats in the area. Three of our boats were close and one was fishing at a little distance when all of a sudden we found ourselves surrounded by the Indian Naval Task Force,” he said while speaking to Dawn over the phone from Badin.
The Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF) on Wednesday reported that the Indian Naval Task Force picked up one Pakistani fisherman while seizing three fishing boats at the Sir Creek.
“We are all poor fishermen and fishing is the only thing we have been taught to do through generations. Our boats weren’t very big and couldn’t go very far into Indian waters as we only catch small fish,” argued Mr Bux.
“Unfortunately, the ninth member of our group, Gulbahar, wasn’t so lucky and was manhandled before being arrested by the Indian forces. They seized our three boats too,” said Mr Bux who along with Yaqoob, Allah Warayo, Ibrahim, Rashid, Sartaj and Qasim and Abdur Razzak managed to escape.
Gulbahar, son of Bakshal Mallah, is 40 years old. “Gulbahar has five small children. God knows how his poor wife will feed them in the absence of the breadwinner of that family,” said Mr Bux.
Badin PFF head Ramzan Mallah said that previously some three to four other fishermen hailing from his village, Ramzan Mullah Goth, had also been picked up. “After spending several months in Indian jails, they have returned,” he reported.
There are currently around 115 Pakistani fishermen languishing in Indian jails.
PFF Chairmen Mohammad Ali Shah told Dawn that all of the nine fishermen hailed from a village along the Zero Point and were fishing near the creek when high-speed naval boats stormed and attempted to arrest all of them. Eight of them jumped into the sea and somehow swam ashore, he said.
The PFF chairman said on the pretext of the nearby controversial Sir Creek, the Indian law-enforcers frequently violated Pakistan territorial waters and picked up poor fishermen.
The government, realising the hardships of fishermen community should take steps to resolve the Sir Creek issue, he said.