The ministry of external affairs (MEA) on Friday said six Indian prisoners, including five fishermen, have died in the Pakistani custody in the last nine months, describing the incidents as “alarming”.

“There have been an increasing number of deaths of fishermen in recent times. Six Indian prisoners out of which five of them were fishermen have died in Pakistani custody. They completed their sentences but were illegally detained by Pakistan,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.

“These incidents are alarming. The matter has been raised by our high commission in Islamabad. Pakistan is duty bound to maintain the safety and security of Indian prisoners,” Bagchi added.

The MEA’s statement comes on a day Pakistani authorities claimed to have saved the lives of six Indian fishermen from drowning close to the international maritime boundary line between the two neighbouring countries.

The incident occurred on Thursday when a ship of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) was patrolling in the Eastern maritime region and found six Indian fishermen in the water, news agency PTI reported.

“A rescue operation was launched immediately and all crew members of the Indian fishing boat were safely recovered,” a statement from the PMSA said.

Later, the rescued fishermen were handed over to an Indian Coast Guard ship operating in the area, the statement said.

In January, a 50-year-old fisherman from Gujarat, who was apprehended by Pakistani authorities a year ago on high seas, died in a jail in that country due to unknown reasons. The deceased was identified as Jayanti Solanki, a resident of Sutrapada village in the Gir-Somnath district.

In July, Kalu Shiyal, a fisherman from Garal in Una taluka of Gir Somnath district, died in a Pakistan jail. The mortal remains of 38-year-old Shiyal were handed over to Indian authorities at the Wagah border. Shiyal was caught by Pakistan Marine Security Agency in June 2018 for allegedly crossing over to the Pakistan side of the notional international maritime boundary line off Kutch coast while fishing on board Ganga Sagar, a fishing trawler belonging to Nilesh Panjari of Porbandar. He was lodged in a Karachi jail since and died on July 6 due to illness.

By Shadab

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