The arrests by Indian Coastguards and MSA have increased manifold in the recent months since the monsoon trawl ban has been lifted in September 2013. This is not surprising considering the rude reality that whenever the India-Pakistan border posts on land heats up with the firing between forces, the waters boil too! Hundreds have been arrested and put behind bars, most of them being Indian fishermen, now in Pakistani jails.
For years, groups including Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD), National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF), and other citizens groups have been working relentlessly towards a permanent settlement to the issue of arrests and ‘cross-border fishing’. However, both governments continue to treat the issue as a hostage to settle other disputes and scores.
The Indian government’s reaction to the case of visa fraud and exploitation of her domestic worker against Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade in the United States is outrageous. In its dealing of the case, the Indian government is only seeking to protect the dignity and honour of Ms. Khobragade, and has shown a complete lack of respect for the underlying issue – that of the abuse and exploitation of a domestic worker by a senior official. What Ms. Khobragade has done is not an uncommon practice among diplomats and government officials. It is difficult to expose such crimes as domestic workers, in their vulnerable and terrified state, are unable to bring such employers to justice. While the alleged strip search that Ms. Khobragade was subjected to is condemnable, the outrage over her arrest and mistreatment by officials cannot camouflage the deeper questions raised by the case.
* New Delhi – 19th December 2013: Today, a ten member delegation of fishermen of Saurashtra, along with leaders of Pakistan India Peoples’ Forum for Peace & Democracy (PIPFPD), National Fishworkers’ Forum (NFF) and a delegation of MPs from Gujarat, met with the Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh at the latter’s residence.
* KARACHI: Men, women and children from Atharki, Shah Bunder, Keti Bunder, Chach Jehan Khan and Jati in Thatta and the coastal villages of Karachi who have been separated from their family members gathered outside the Karachi Press Club here on Tuesday to raise their voice against the injustice that fishermen on either side of the Pakistan-India border are subjected to as a result of their straying into the neighbouring country’s territorial waters.
We the undersigned are shocked at the manner in which a section of the electronic media and the social media vilified Khurshid Anwar, social activist and writer with regard to an allegation of rape against him, causing him to commit suicide today morning , the 18th of December, 2013. The allegation was never investigated by either the police, (there was no FIR) or any statutory body resulting in him being completely denied the opportunity of being heard or the allegation fairly investigated.