New Delhi: Approximately 167 Indian fishermen are currently in jails across Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the Narendra Modi government told the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. In a written reply to a question, Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said that while 20 fishermen have been jailed by Sri Lankan authorities, 147 are being detained in Pakistan.
Singh has said that the Indian government was regularly taking up the issue with both the countries, adding that a total of 1,566 fishermen had been released from Pakistani and Sri Lankan jails in the countries in the last two years. While Minister of State for External Affairs MJ Akbarsaid that another 61 civilians are believed to be in Pakistani jails.
Singh said, India has also set up a Joint Working Group with Sri Lanka to help find a permanent solution to all fishermen issues.
While thousands of fishermen have been detained by both countries in recent years, the Indian government and civil society organisations have taken steps to secure their release. Between December 2016 and January, Pakistan released a total of 447 fishermen as part of a goodwill gesture. Many of the fishermen had been in jail for over a year.