New Delhi: A total of 500 Indian fishermen are lodged in various jails in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the government said on Wednesday.
In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh said that while 482 Indian fishermen were lodged in Pakistani jails, 18 were in Sri Lankan prisons.
There were 1,050 Indian fishing boats in Pakistan's custody while 10 were with Sri Lanka, according to Singh.
He said that Pakistan acknowledged the custody of only 391 fishermen, but not the number of Indian boats in custody.
In all, 388 Indian fishermen have been released this year by the two countries -- 174 by Pakistan and 214 by Sri Lanka.
"The government attaches the highest priority to the safety, security and welfare of Indian fishermen," Singh said.
"Our missions and posts regularly seek consular access to Indian fishermen detained in foreign countries, ensure their welfare and also pursue their early release and repatriation, along with their boats."
Singh also added that given the humanitarian and livelihood dimensions of this issue, the government had put in place several bilateral mechanisms to ensure cooperation and understanding between India and the countries concerned to promote the safety and security of Indian fishermen.