India frees 88 Pakistani fishermen for Ramadan

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) India said on Friday it has released 88 Pakistani fishermen lodged in Gujarat jails, following a decision Prime Minister Narendra Modi conveyed by phone to Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif on June 16.

These 88 fishermen have already left the western coastal state on Friday and would be handed over to Pakistani authorities at the Wagah-Attari border checkpost near Amritsar in Punjab on June 21, it said.

The release and repatriation of Pakistani fishermen was considered by the central government in coordination with the Gujarat government so that the fishermen could be with their families during the month of Ramadan, an official statement said.

Of the total 115 Pakistani fishermen at present lodged in jails in Gujarat, the Centre decided to release and repatriate 88 whose nationality was confirmed by Pakistan.

This was made possible after withdrawal of cases against them with the consent of the competent courts on “humanitarian grounds”, said the statement.

“Even though there are media reports about nine more fishermen whose nationality has been confirmed by the Pakistan government, the union home ministry has not received any communication regarding such confirmation as per the available records,” the statement added.

As for the release and repatriation of the 27 Pakistani fishermen still lodged in jails in Gujarat, the statement said the issue will be considered by the government as and when their nationality is confirmed by the Pakistan High Commission in India.

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