Ahmedabad: Gujarat fishermen, who have made several representations to the state and Centre over periodic abduction of their fisher-folk and seizure of boats by Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, have again approached Chief Minister Narendra Modi urging him take up the issue with the government.
In this fishing season itself, one fishermen was killed, 150 were apprehended and 32 fishing boats were seized by PMSA from the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).
"We have written many times in the past both to the Centre and the Gujarat government. But no permanent solution is in sight to the problem of kidnapping of fishermen and seizure of their boats," Bharat Modi, a fishermen community leader who was part of the delegation which made a representation to CM, told PTI.
Bharat said that they have met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, former Foreign Ministers S M Krishna and Natwar Singh on the issue so far but this has not yielded any result till now.
"Now, we have asked Chief Minister (made a representation) to take up our issue with the Centre and arrive at a concrete solution for this long-standing problem," he said.
Earlier, he said, talks with Pakistan on this issue were suspended as there was a military dispensation in power there.
"However, with a democratic structure in place in the neighbouring country (for two consecutive terms), the issue can be solved through constructive dialogue," he said.
"If we can hold discussion with Sri Lanka and they can release our fishermen, why can`t we hold talks with Pakistan on this issue?" Bharat asked.
He further said that earlier fishermen used to be released soon after they were caught, but now they are released only once in 2-3 years.
"When fishermen were kidnapped some years back, they used to be released within 2-3 months or 4-6 months. Now, they are released after 2-3 years only. The kidnap of fishermen and the seizure of boats is affecting livelihoods badly," he said.
Bharat also said that Pakistan has close to 815 Indian
fishing boats in their custody. Though fishermen are released after some time but their boats are not, which is causing them huge financial problems, he added.
Boats, which cost nearly Rs 40 lakh, are in Pakistan`s custody and they should be brought back as they are national properties, he said.
The fishermen body have urged the state government to form a delegation of fisherfolk, who can go to Pakistan, to inspect the condition of boats.
"Fifty per cent of Indian fishing boats that are in the custody of Pakistan are damaged or are not in good condition because of wear and tear. A delegation must be sent by the state government to inspect the boats and decide which of them can be brought back," he said.
He said more fishermen are getting kidnapped because they are not getting good catch in the coastal areas.
"Because of industrial development in coastal areas and subsequent pollution of water and land in coastal areas, fishermen have to go into deep sea for a good catch. Consequently, they cross the IMBL and get caught by security forces," Bharat said.
Since the beginning of fishing season on August 15, 2013, there have been four occasions when fishermen have been kidnapped and their boast seized. In one such instance, one fishermen was killed.
On September 20, 2013, PMSA had seized nine Indian fishing boats and apprehended 58 fishermen from Porbandar.
On October 12, PMSA had killed one Indian fishermen and kidnapped 30 anglers from near the IMBL. Five Indian boats were also taken away by the security agency.
Also, nine Indian fishing boats were seized and 40 Indian fishermen were apprehended by PMSA for illegally crossing the IMBL off Jakhau coast in Jamnagar district on October 24, 2013.
Two days back, on January 24, nine boats were seized and 22 Indian fishermen were apprehended by PMSA off the IMBL near Jakhau coast.