By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Oct 3:
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, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency (PMSA), apprehended 02 Indian fishing boats along with 16 crew members. The apprehensions were made by a PMSA ship during routine surveillance in maritime zones of Pakistan, the PMSA stated in a tweet on Sept 30.
“The boats were apprehended for violation of Pakistani Law and UN Convention of Law at 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 09 and 07 fishermen respectively, were within Indian territory and they were detained illegally.
Out of 07 fishermen, 06 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 09 fishermen on the boat “Pusti Krupa” are reportedly from Gujarat.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) MLA from Dahanu Vinod Nikole in a letter, has urged Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde to take up the matter with Union Government and seek immediate release of the Indian fishermen since this is for the first time the fishermen in large number have been arrested by the Pakistani authorities.
“They have certainly not strayed with intention of poaching. The poor fishermen do not operate well-equipped sophisticated boats and there could be an error of judgment while navigating. The fishermen from the Pakistani side also enter the Indian waters. As such there should be an agreement between both the countries to deport each other’s fishermen”, Nikole said in his letter dated October first.
“ If the maritime authorities notice that the fishing trawlers are entering each other’s exclusive economic zone, then the authorities from both sides (PMSA and Indian Coast Guard), could forewarn them and ask them to return to their respective country instead of taking a penal action”, Nikole said.
The MLA has further stated that now these fishermen will have to languish in a Pakistani jail for 1 to ½ 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 of 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.