Over 121 ships hijacked in past two years: Antony

A total of 121 ships were hijacked in the international waters in the last two years, Lok Sabha was informed.

New Delhi: A total of 121 ships were hijacked
in the international waters in the last two years of which two
incidents were reported off the Lakshadweep coast this year
and 350 crew members were taken captive by pirates, Lok Sabha
was informed.

"As per International Maritime Bureau, during 2009 to
June 30 this year the total number of ships hijacked is 121.
The number of crew who were taken captive is 350 in the
current year," Defence Minister AK Antony said in a written
reply on Monday.

On piracy attempts near Lakshadweep island, he said, "Two
incidents were reported off Lakshdweep in 2011. Indian Navy
and Coast Guards intercepted the two vessels, which were
hijacked Thai vessels. 43 pirates of Thai and Myanmarese
origin were captured and handed over to Mumbai police."

On efforts by the Indian Navy to control piracy in the
Gulf of Aden, the minister said, "Government has deployed one
Indian Naval warship in the Gulf of Aden for anti-piracy
patrols since October 2008 and more than 1,700 ships have been
escorted."

The presence of Indian Navy in the area is to protect our
sea borne trade and instill confidence in the sea faring
community, he said.

The minister informed the House that a coordinated
operation was launched by Navy and Coast Guard for preventing
piracy off the Lakshadweep islands. "The operation included
enhanced surveillance and patrol by surface and air units," he
said.

"Indian Navy has substantially increased its anti-piracy
deployment in East Arabian Sea since November 2010. The result
of these deployments was that by end April 2011 the threat of
piracy attacks was substantially reduced in this area and
there were nil hijacking East of 65 degree and East Longitude
since February 2011," Antony said.

On whether the states with maritime boundaries have
been accorded the same status as that of states with
international borders, he said, "The international border
clearly defines the territorial limits and sovereignty of a
country over its territory.

"But the maritime boundary delineates the limits of
the maritime zones between the adjacent nations subject to
internationally recognised rights of innocent passage and
freedom upon the high seas, in accordance with United Nations
Conference on the Laws of Seas (UNCLOS)."

Antony told Parliament that Indian Navy has been
carrying out joint patrolling of Exclusive Economic Zones
(EEZ) of Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius.

Informing the House on INS Godavari`s stand-off with
PNS Babur during an anti-piracy patrol, he said India has
lodged a protest with Pakistan government through the High
Commission here against the violation of relevant regulations
of navigational safety by the Pakistani naval ship.

"While carrying out anti-piracy patrol, INS Godavari
on coming close to MV Suez, which had earlier been hijacked,
tried to establish communication to ascertain safety of crew,"
the Defence Minister said.

"But PNS Babur closed INS Godavari at high speed from
astern and carried out a manoeuvre in gross violation of
relevant regulations on navigational safety and in the process
touched Godavari, marginally damaging the extended safety net
on the helicopter deck," Antony said.

PTI

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