New Delhi: Defence Minister AK Antony on Tuesday asked government agencies to take up at the international fora the issue of private armed guards on board merchant ship and evolve regulations against them in the backdrop of two incidents involving such persons near Indian coastline.
In the first case, Italian marines had allegedly shot dead Indian fisheremen off the coast of Kerala while in the second case, a floating armoury ship was apprehended by the Coast Guard near Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu.
"Antony asked government agencies to take up the issue of private armed security guards on-board commercial ships, at international fora such as International Maritime Organisation," a Defence Ministry release said.
The Minister, while addressing a meeting to review coastal security, said the issue has assumed significance in the backdrop of two recent incidents close to Indian coast.
"He directed that the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Shipping should come out with a plan of action and regulations on the issue at the earliest. The effort would lead to better regulation on the issue of floating armouries carrying private armed guards and weapons in our maritime zones," it said.
National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, Defence Secretary RK Mathur, senior Coast Guard and Navy officials took part in the meeting.
The Defence Minister stated that in the last few years, government has taken several steps towards enhancing India`s coastal security and "both Navy and Coast Guard have been strengthened in terms of assets and manpower."
The meeting also reviewed the progress of several schemes initiated for enhancing coastal security like mandatory registration of fishing boats, issue of biometric ID cards to fishermen, formation of state maritime boards, designation of shipping lanes in ports, survey and monitoring of landing points along the coast.
Antony asked the central agencies to be in touch with their state government counterparts to ensure that there is no room for any delay or slackness on matters of coastal security for achieving a gap-free coastal security environment.