Pakistanis gathered in Karachi for the funeral of Abdul Karim Bhatti who allegedly died in an Indian jail. A large number of fishermen and relatives staged a protest afterwards and chanted slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Mr Bhatti was reportedly arrested by Indian coast guards after he crossed the maritime boundary six months ago.
Protestors chanted, “Modi, the murderer of the poor and defenceless! Modi, the face of Indian terrorism! Hope you drown, Modi!”
They had also written “Muslim lives matter” on banners and placards.
Fishermen’s Cooperative Society (FCS) chairman Hafiz Abdul Berr said: “Pakistan also has Indian fishermen in our jails, arrested for the same violation of unknowingly crossing over to Pakistani waters.
“But we understand that there is no line in the sea to tell these poor fishermen in their small boats that are devoid of sophisticated gadgetry to indicate their exact bearings or location.
“There are 119 Pakistani fishermen languishing in India’s jails since as far back as 1999 but even after 21 years behind bars, nothing is being done to send them back home while they take regular beatings and are made to do menial work.
“When we release Indian fishermen from our jails, like we did recently, sending back to India some 500 of their fishermen, we send them home as a gesture of goodwill with sweets, ajrak and gifts for their families.
“We are peaceful people after all and we know that these folks are not criminals and should not be treated as such.
“But in stark contrast, our fishermen in Indian jails are tortured and if they are lucky enough to return alive from there, they come back as cripples or they have lost their mental balance.”
It comes as police have been ordered onto the streets of an Indian town where Hindu groups will next week begin building a temple on a site contested by Muslims for decades in a dispute that has sparked some of the country’s most bloody communal violence.
The Supreme Court of India ruled last year that Hindus, who believe the site in the northern town of Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, a physical incarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, be allowed to build a temple there.
Hindus say the site was holy for them long before the Muslim Mughals, India’s most prominent Islamic rulers, built the Babri Mosque there in 1528. The court said Muslims be given another plot of land for a mosque.
Prime Minister Modi, whose ruling Bharatiya Janata Party campaigned for more than three decades for the temple, has been invited to lay the temple’s foundation stone on August 5, officials said.
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A senior official in Modi’s office in New Delhi said: “But his visit depends on the pandemic situation and security concerns around it.
“Social distancing rules will be followed.”
In 1992, a Hindu mob destroyed the 16th-century mosque on the site, triggering riots in which about 2,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed across the country.
Court battles over the ownership of the site followed.