Body of Indian fisherman handed over 46 days after he died in Pak jail

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Forty-six days after he died in a Pakistani jail, the body of 53-year-old Ramesh Solanki, a fisherman from Gujarat, was handed over to the Indian authorities on Saturday at the Wagah border in Punjab and was flown to Ahmedabad on Sunday.

Solanki, was among a group of fishermen who were apprehended by the Pakistan Marine Security Agency (PMSA) for allegedly violating territorial waters on February 17, 2020. He was lodged in Landhi jail in Karachi where he died of an illness on December 14, 2021. However, his body was kept in a morgue as authorities took time to complete the formalities.

“We sent a team to Amritsar in Punjab early this month after we were intimated that the body will be handed over on January 14 or 15. However, it didn’t happen as the formalities were not completed. Eventually, his body was handed over to the Indian authorities at 1 pm Saturday and it was flown to Ahmedabad on Sunday evening,” said RK Pattani, deputy director of fisheries of Gujarat.

Solanki was a native of Sutrapada taluka in Gir Somnath district. He was fishing on board Rasul Sagar, a boat registered in Porbandar, when the crew were caught by PMSA for allegedly crossing over to the Pakistani side of the disputed International Maritime Boundary Line in the Arabian Sea off Kutch coast.

“From Ahmedabad, his body will be taken to his village in Sutrapada by road,” Pattani added.

Another fisherman from Nanavada village in Kodinar taluka of Gir Somnath, Ramesh Sosa, died in a Pakistani prison on March 26 last year but his body was repatriated after 42 days on May 7. He had continued to languish in Pakistan jail despite having completed his prison sentence in July 2019.

“In Solanki’s case, Pakistan authorities took almost a fortnight to notify the death to the Indian authorities and took more than 40 days to repatriate his mortal remains,” said Jatin Desai, former secretary of the Indian chapter of the Pakistan-India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy, an NGO working for friendly ties between the two neighbours.

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