GDN: FOUR Bahrain-based fishermen continue to languish in jail in Qatar seven months after being arrested for entering the country's territorial waters. They have been charged with attacking Qatari Coastguards and fishing illegally.
However, the men will have to wait at least another three months to learn their fate as the Public Prosecution in Doha announced their case would be heard after the summer break on September 13.
An official from the Indian Embassy in Doha told the GDN the men were among a group of 49 fishermen arrested for allegedly straying into Qatar's territorial waters last November.
"This batch consists of workers employed in Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia," he said
"Four of them were working in Bahrain. They are standing trial for attacking Coastguards and trying to escape arrest."
The official said the other fishermen had already been released and repatriated to Bahrain, but the case of these four men was still in the hands of the Public Prosecution.
In March, Communist Party of India MP P Lingam urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intervene and secure the release of 44 fishermen from Kanyakumari district of Tamil Nadu.
He said among those detained were two groups who went for fishing from Bahrain and said their employers were not taking any steps to secure their release by paying a fine.
Mr Lingam claimed that more than 10,000 fishermen from Kanyakumari district had travelled to the Gulf for fishing jobs.
"The entire village of the arrested fishermen has been in mourning from the day of detention because such incidents are increasing day by day and the possibilities of making a living through fishing in Gulf countries have become a nightmare for Kanyakumari fishermen," he said.
The GDN reported in January that four fishermen working in Bahrain had been released by Qatari authorities.
The first batch was released in December after their employers paid fines to Doha authorities.
Meanwhile, the Indian Embassy in Qatar said that a court date had been fixed for 32 Bahrain-based fishermen detained earlier this month by Qatari Coastguards for illegally entering its territorial waters.
"The fishermen will be presented before the Public Prosecution on Monday," said an official from Doha.
He said the men were now housed in a temporary accommodation after being shifted from Al Khor jail following the intervention of the embassy.
"The men are now accommodated in a safe location with assistance from local community leaders," he said.
"The embassy is providing them with groceries and other needs."
Members of the Bahrain Fishermen's Society earlier said dwindling fish stocks forced fishermen to venture into the territorial waters of other countries.
The last batch of Bahraini fishermen held by Qatar were released in December after a court fined them BD300, but allowed them to leave without paying because of the amount of time they had spent behind bars.