650 Indian Fishermen in Custody in Neighbouring Countries

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650 Indian Fishermen in Custody in Neighbouring Countries

Nearly 650 Indian fishermen have been arrested by maritime security agencies of different countries. (Representational image)

New Delhi:  Nearly 650 Indian fishermen have been arrested until October this year by maritime security agencies of different countries, with Sri Lanka topping the chart.

According to government sources, around 350 fishermen have been arrested and 52 fishing trawlers seized by Sri Lankan navy, while Pakistan's Martime Security Agency (MSA) has arrested 239 Indian fishermen and impounded 35 fishing boats. Bangladesh has 56 and Burma has six Indian fishermen in its custody.

In a majority of these cases Indian fishermen ventured into the waters or the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the neighbouring countries, which led their maritime security agencies to take action against them.

October saw over 60 fishermen being arrested by Sri Lankan navy and Pakistan's Martime Security Agency.

September and October witnessed two incidents where Indian fishermen were attacked by MSA after they ventured into Pakistani waters, resulting in a fatality.

The Indian Coast Guard issued a fresh advisory to the Gujarat government recently warning them not to wander in the "no-fishing" zone.

The advisory came against backdrop of the killing of a 40-year-old fisherman who had ventured 10 nautical miles inside Pakistani waters and was shot dead on September 18. On October 15, another fisherman was injured when his boat was in Pakistani waters. The injured fisherman, identified as Dhanji Bamaniya, was let off on humanitarian grounds along with five others who sailed back to Jakhau coast.

Authorities have also warned the fishermen against not only crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), but also not to fish in the "no-fishing" zone, failing which their documents would be forfeited.

"We have informed the Fisheries Department of Gujarat government about this. On our part we can only seize their documents and hand it over to the state authorities," a Coast Guard official said.

An Indian delegation is scheduled to visit Pakistan soon to inspect 22 Indian boats seized by the neighbouring country and discuss modalities for their release. Coast Guard sources said Pakistani authorities keep releasing fishermen, but not the boats.

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