10 Nov 2017/Friday
The number of fishermen apprehended by both sides remains understated. However, the fact that majority could have just crossed over the blue-green waters because of lack of navigational tools or high tech boats cannot be over ruled. Most trespassing is common to Pakistani and Indian fishermen operating along the coastline of the Indian state of Gujarat and the Pakistani province of Sindh. Undoubtedly trespassing is an offence and that’s how probably these uneducated, unaware, fishermen while seeking their daily living, trespass. However, should they be treated and exchanged like prisoner of war?
There is no denial that “terror boats” exist, Pakistani citizen Ajmal Kasab and the 170 dead Indian citizens are proof of the same. More often than not trafficking of humans, drugs and weapons from across are injected mechanisms by the Pakistan state subjects. This issue is sensitive, as territorial integrity cannot be compromised. However, the question is that for the misdeeds of these planted Kasab’s how many fishermen would waste a lifetime languishing in jails?
When the boats do not return in their expected time the melancholy of a death scene is cast over the whole village to which the apprehended fishermen belong. In some cases, when other boats have seen the capture while escaping in time, the families are at least saved from the anxiety and fear of the unknown. These fishermen who are captured at sea are usually poor people; they work for the boat owners on a catch-sharing basis. Once these bread earners are arrested, most of their families fall apart. Imagine what happens to the family when the only bread-earner is arrested by the coast guard or border force? Their laughter and happy moments turn to grief and sobs; children are forced to leave their schools and start begging; their health deteriorates, everybody in the community looks downs upon them, women are compelled to come out and resort to domestic labor. Their dignity is gone and they have to face an insensitive world all around. On the other hand the fishermen are at the mercy of the legal system, the procedures are so cumbersome and slow that they could break anyone’s back.
Calling these fishermen pawns in the states game of rivalry would not be wrong. There are various reasons behind this whole phenomenon. Some of the incidents are just circumstantial or accidental or due to ignorance; sometimes these may be interest-driven or due to desperation while there are also deep-rooted systemic problems behind these arrests.
The question is why they are being treated like this? For fishing? Or is it because radicalized Kasabs overflowing from Pakistan have left the other side with no option (but apprehend) in order to safeguard their citizens.