IN A stirring revelation to the police, the fishermen aboard fishing boat Premraj, which was allegedly attacked by a ‘Pakistani’ vessel earlier this week, have said that after killing their fellow fisherman, the vessel even chased and fired a few more rounds at them as they tried to run away.
Premraj, a registered fishing boat from Gujarat, was fishing in the Arabian Sea, around 180 nautical miles from the Okha port in Gujarat, when a vessel bearing a Pakistani flag came towards them and opened indiscriminate fire.
One of the seven fishermen on board the Premraj, identified as Iqbal Bhatti, died on the spot after being hit by two of the several rounds that were fired.
In their statement to the Yellowgate police, which has maritime jurisdiction over waters from Gujarat to Kanyakumari, accessed by The Indian Express, the fishermen have said that the vessel with a Pakistani flag came towards their boat, and the men aboard it suddenly opened fire without any word.
“Around five to seven rounds were fired. A couple of bullets punched through the door of the cabin and hit Iqbal, who fell down. We immediately turned the boat around and started speeding towards the port. The boat followed us and fired six to seven more rounds as we were fleeing, after which it turned away. We later realised that Iqbal had died,” the fishermen have told the police.
The fishermen, on their way back, had sent out an alert on the wireless radio about being under attack.
Some distance ahead, Premraj was intercepted by a Coast Guard boat, which accompanied it to the Okha port.
On Monday evening, a team with the Yellowgate police left for Okha to conduct further inquiries into the matter.
The team will speak to the Okha police, which took the first statements from the fishermen, and will make inquiries with the fishermen again, the police said.
“Prima facie, it seems that the accused were using assault rifles or guns of superior calibre. A handgun bullet could not have gone through the door of the cabin and then killed Bhatti,” said a police officer.
The matter will also be taken up at an international level through diplomatic channels. Senior police officers had on Monday told The Indian Express that they would be issuing Letters Rogatory (LR), seeking cooperation of the Pakistan government in the matter.