M A I N   N E W S

Pak to probe Indian fisherman’s death

Islamabad, March 21
Pakistan today ordered an inquiry into the death of Indian detainee Laxman Kanji in a police hospital in Karachi as its human rights minister urged both governments to stop politicking over jailed fishermen from each others’ country.

Kanji (40), who was arrested in February 2006 for allegedly entering Pakistani waters, died yesterday of a “cardiac arrest” after being taken to hospital from Landi Jail where he was detained, authorities claimed.

Caretaker human rights minister Anasar Burney, who had played an important role in ensuring the release of another Indian prisoner on death row in Pakistan for 35 years, Kashmir Singh, today told reporters that he had initiated an “immediate inquiry” into the death of Kanji while in custody.

Burney also asked the Pakistani and Indian government to “stop playing politics or a numbers game and to release all fisherman lodged in their jails on an urgent basis”.

Expressing grief over the fisherman’s death, Burney, one of Pakistan’s leading rights activists, said it was a shame that he died away from his family in Pakistan and had spent two years in a prison. Kanji was admitted to hospital last week after he complained of stomach pain, officials claimed. According to initial reports, Kanji had died of natural causes, Burney added.

Officials in Karachi said an autopsy would be performed on Kanji’s body to ascertain the exact cause of death before it was handed over to Indian authorities. Burney said it was a shame that hundreds of poor fisherman from Pakistan and India were in prison in the two countries “for crossing an invisible line that divided territorial waters”.

“The vast majority of these fisherman cross international borders unintentionally, but they are still arrested, their boats are impounded and they end up spending years in jails. Many are the sole breadwinners for their families or are fathers of young children. In their absence, their families suffer immensely,” the minister said. — PTI



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