New Delhi,Manan Kumar(dna): In a healthy sign of mending fences diplomatically amid a long period of an estranged relationship bordering on hostility, the governments of India and Pakistan finally seem to have come together. This has resulted in the safe return of 57 boats belonging to Gujarat fishermen that were impounded by Pakistan's Navy.
Indian fishermen are slated to receive these boats at Porbandar, on Monday afternoon. The last time something like this had happened was in 2004. 53 Indian boats were brought back from Pakistan. Each of these boats is about 4 to 5 years old and cost around Rs 24-26 lakh.
Interestingly, the 57 boats would be handed over by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) to the Indian Coast Guard in the same area as the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) where a suspicious Pakistani boat had sunk under mysterious circumstances on New Year's Eve.
The ministry of external affairs (MEA) and Indian high commission at Islamabad with the help of the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) arranged for the inspection and return of these boats to India.
After several rounds of discussions with Pakistan, the Indian team including representatives of the Indian high commission, Islamabad, inspected the boats and projected a fund requirement of Rs 1.28 crore for the repair and return of the boats.
The Union home ministry in consultation with the Gujarat government sanctioned the amount on an urgent basis with a view to expedite repair work.
The home ministry also arranged the movement of an 8-member team on March 10 as proposed by the Gujarat government to Pakistan for inspection, repair and return of the boats.
As per protocol, the boats were towed away by Pakistani trawlers to a designated location at a site along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in sea water under the supervision of the PMSA and then towed away by Indian fishing boats from the IMBL site to the Indian coast in Indian waters under the supervision of the Indian Coast Guard.
To accomplish this feat of building trust, Gujarat arranged for 57 towing boats, 407 fishermen, and 10 state government officials who sailed from Porbander to the designated IMBL site on Sunday to receive the Indian boats from Pakistan.
Indian Coast Guard ships Rajratan and Vijit along with adequate manpower are supervising the whole operation