Nepali in Pakistan jail for 29 months

  • maritime trespassing charge
- Devendra Bhattarai, Karachi
Nepali in Pakistan jail for 29 months

Feb 14, 2015-

A 25-year-old Nepali man working as a deckhand for an Indian fishing vessel in the sea stretch between India and Pakistan has been languishing in the Karachi-based Malir Jail for the past 29 months.

Min Bahadur Sartunge Magar, a native of Badagaun-3 in Gulmi district, was arrested by Pakistani marines on September 19, 2012 along with 13 other fishermen from the sea stretch between Sindh in Pakistan and Gujarat in India.

Magar was working in a Gujarat-based hotel for two years before joining the fishing boat for better pay. While his monthly salary at the hotel was IRs 5,000, he was promised IRs 12,000 per month on the boat.

Fishermen who wander into another nation’s waters being arrested by either Indian or Pakistani officials are regularly reported in the news.

The two countries have been using the release of such fishermen in equal numbers from both sides to ease their bilateral relations. Currently, thousands are imprisoned in countries including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka on the charges of breaching their maritime boundaries.

After some fishermen released from a Pakistani jail mentioned in an Indian television channel about a Nepali man being held along with them, the Nepali embassy in Islamabad had started work for his identification.

“We wrote to the Foreign/Home Ministry here three times requesting information about the Nepali man. But every time they replied that no Nepali was arrested from the marine areas,” Nepali Ambassador to Pakistan Bharat Raj Poudyal said. “But as the matter had not died down, sources from some NGOs who visited jails for inspection revealed about Magar being held in a jail near Karachi.” There are only two jails around Karachi--the Central Jail and Malir Jail.

After receiving preliminary information about Magar, Counsellor at the Nepali embassy Tirtha Raj Aryal had visited him in jail.

“He was addressed as Pampha in the jail. All his arrest documents and records mentioned his name as Pampha,” Aryal said. “We took some time to verify the name before meeting him.” Magar had met someone from Nepal for the first time in 29 months after being imprisoned in Malir Jail which is situated some 10 kilometres from Karachi Airport.

“While I was working in the hotel in Gujarat, a regular customer there had told me about fishing in the sea. I boarded the ship without any idea about its destination. Other officers in the ship would be busy with their computers while I did the loading-unloading work after fish were caught,” Magar had told Counsellor Aryal during the meeting.

“We used to be at the sea all the time. We had no knowledge of the outside world. I sent my two months’ salary home. One night while sleeping on the ship, police arrested us all and brought us here. I came to know about my whereabouts only much later.” Back home, Magar’s two sons are also in a vulnerable state. Magar’s wife has left home with their three-year-old son. The other five-year-old son is being looked after by Magar’s father Mane.

After learning about her husband’s imprisonment in a foreign country, Magar’s wife remarried. But Magar has no idea about this. As his mother passed away when he was a child, he was unable to continue his school education. Magar, who was forced by poverty to find employment in India, says he never knew he could get arrested for what he did. According to Ambassador Aryal, the Pakistani government is going to “reconsider” the matter after being informed about the arrest. The Nepali embassy has requested Pakistani authorities for Magar’s release as he was working under orders and his mistake was unintentional despite territorial violence is taken as a serious crime under international laws.

“In the absence of identification documents like citizenship certificate and passport, I readied his travel documents by visiting him in the jail,” Aryal said. “We are now arranging funds for his return tickets as there is no direct flight to Kathmandu from here.” Magar’s father has no knowledge of his son’s condition in jail. “When will my son return home?” he asked over the phone last Thursday while taking his goats for grazing.

Published: 15-02-2015 09:10

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