In second such incident within a week, 18 fishermen on board, three fishing trawlers of Gujarat were abducted by Pakistan Marine Security Agency (PMSA) while they were operating near the notional International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) of India and Pakistan in the Arabian sea off Jkhau coast in Kutch on Thursday.
“Initially, we had reports that two fishing boats with 12 fishermen on board were detained by PMSA while they were operating near the IMBL. But now we have confirmation that three boats and 18 fishermen have been abducted. Two of the abducted boats are registered at Porbandar port while the third belongs to Okha port,” Manish Lodhari, secretary of Gujarat chapter of National Fish Workers Forum told The Indian Express.
Lodhari said that the incident took place between 11 am and 12 pm on Thursday. “We are not certain as yet if the seized boats had crossed the IMBL or they were detained while they were operating towards the Indian side of the IMBL,” he said.
This is second such incident within a week. On February 19, PMSA had abducted 16 Indian fishing trawlers along with 88 fishermen aboard for allegedly violating Pakistan waters. This incident was preceded by seizure of two Indian boats and 12 fishermen from the Arabian sea.
India and Pakistan have dispute over their waterfront at the Arabian sea. Despite repeated warnings from security agencies like Indian Coast Guard and fisheries department of Gujarat government, fishermen continue exploring the troubled waters and getting caught by the Pakistani security angeicies year after year.
“Around 60 boats have been seized by PMSA this fishing season alone. This is worrisome as fishermen who are caught are usually breadwinners of their families. The frequency of such incidents this month has been alarming,” Lodhari added.
The fishermen leader further said that there could be multiple reasons for Indian fishermen getting caught. “It is possible that they are not getting good catch elsewhere and venture near the IMBL in hope of more. It is also possible that water current in the creek may be swaying their boats or sometimes the captain of trawlers might not be able to note their GPS position and inadvertently wade into Pakistani waters,” Lodhari said.
According to fishermen leaders, more than 400 Indian fishermen are languishing in Pakistani jails and more than 600 fishing trawlers are in the custody of our western neighbours.