INDIA. Mumbai: Sixteen Indian fishermen have been taken into custody and their two boats have been impounded by the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) for allegedly straying into Pakistani waters.
“On September 27, the Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA) apprehended 2 Indian fishing boats along with 16 crew members. “The arrests were made by a PMSA ship during routine surveillance in Pakistani maritime zones,” the PMSA said in a tweet on September 30.
“The boats were apprehended for violation of Pakistani law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. “After an initial investigation, the boats were towed to Karachi, and the apprehended fishermen were handed over to Docks Police for further legal formalities,” the PMSA’s another tweet read.
However, the boat owner, Mulji Khorawa, residing at Mangrol, Junagadh district (Gujarat), claimed that the boats “Pusti Krupa” and “Matsyagandha,” carrying nine and seven fishermen, respectively, were within Indian territory and they were detained illegally.
Out of seven fishermen, six hail from Aswali Village of Dahanu in Palghar District (near Mumbai) in Maharashtra. Their names were given as Navsya Mahada Bhimra, Sarit Umarsada, Vijay Nagvasi, Jairam Thakar, Umji Padvi, and Vinod Koli. The seventh fisherman, Krishna Raman Bhujad, is from outside Maharashtra. Similarly, the nine fishermen on the boat “Pusti Krupa” are reportedly from Gujarat.
A Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) MLA from Dahanu Vinod Nikole has, in a letter, urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to take up the matter with the Union Government and seek the immediate release of the Indian fishermen since this is the first time a large number have been arrested by the Pakistani authorities.
“They have certainly not strayed with the intention of poaching. The poor fishermen do not operate well-equipped, sophisticated boats, and there could be an error of judgement while navigating. The fishermen from the Pakistani side also enter Indian waters. As such, there should be an agreement between both countries to deport each other’s fishermen,” Nikole said in his letter dated October 1.
“If the maritime authorities notice that the fishing trawlers are entering each other’s exclusive economic zone, then the authorities from both sides (the PMSA and Indian Coast Guard) could forewarn them and ask them to return to their respective countries instead of taking penal action,” Nikole said.
The MLA has further stated that now these fishermen will have to languish in a Pakistani jail for 1 to 12 years.
As such, the Union External Affairs Ministry should immediately get in touch with the Indian Embassy in Pakistan, and in turn, the Embassy should hear the version of the arrested fishermen to resolve the dispute.
“The CPM demands immediate government intervention by the authorities in the matter,” Nikole added.
Nikole also pointed out that, last year, the fisherman Sridhar Chamre from Palghar died in the unjustified firing by the PMSA on an Indian boat. Unfortunately, the victim’s family is yet to get any compensation.
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