Diplomatic efforts secured release of fishermen's boats from Pakistan

Attari (Punjab): Diplomatic efforts by India helped in securing the release of 57 boats belonging to Indian fishermen from the custody of Pakistani authorities, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said here on Sunday.

The boats, according to the home minister, will reach Porbandar along the Gujarat coast on Monday.

The boats were confiscated by Pakistani maritime authorities after arresting Indian fishermen for allegedly violating the Pakistani maritime boundary in recent years.

In the past, Pakistan used to release the fishermen after keeping them imprisoned for terms ranging from a few months to some years, but did not return the boats.

The home minister said some of the boats were damaged and the central government has sanctioned Rs.1.27 crore to get them repaired.

Most of the fishermen, who belong to Gujarat, were poor.

The home minister also assured that a full truck scanner would be installed at the Attari integrated check post (ICP) to scan incoming trucks from Pakistan as part of bilateral trade through the Attari-Wagah land border.

On the occasion, Rajnath Singh laid the foundation stone for a viewers' gallery to be constructed at Attari for people coming to watch the evening Retreat ceremony. The facility will cost Rs.24 crore.

With the new gallery, Attari will be able to accommodate over 15,000 people for the popular ceremony. At present, the facility is only for 5,000 people though almost double that number attend the ceremony every day.

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