Posted by: The ocean update | November 26, 2015

As illegal fishing boats thrive, Mumbai still insecure (India)

Mumbai Police patrol boats keep vigil on the Mumbai coastline. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

Mumbai Police patrol boats keep vigil on the Mumbai coastline. Photo: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

November 26th, 2015 (Gautam S. Mengle). Mumbai’s coastline is still as vulnerable as it was seven years ago, Damodar Tandel, president of the Akhil Maharashtra Machhimar Kriti Samiti, said here on Wednesday.

Mr. Tandel said the fact that illegal fishing boats from as far as Gujarat were being caught at Mumbai docks proved this. “If illegal fishing boats can come to Mumbai unchecked, what is to stop terrorists from coming the same way? If the police are unable to stop illegal fishing boats, are they going to be able to know which boat is carrying terrorists?” Mr. Tandel said.

The personnel who man the Mumbai police’s patrol boats, however, refuted Mr. Tandel’s claim. “We personally go on board, check their paperwork and search the entire boat whenever we spot a suspicious boat. We have found so many illegal fishing boats while patrolling and have taken action against them as well,” said a police officer.

Mr. Tandel stays at the fishermen’s colony at Badhwar Park, Cuffe Parade; the same jetty from where Ajmal Kasab and his nine fellow terrorists entered Mumbai on the night of November 26, 2008, and proceeded to wreak havoc.The terrorists had hijacked a fishing vehicle in deep waters and then made their way to Mumbai using an inflatable dinghy.

Following the attacks, the police installed a chowky at the jetty, along with a watch tower which is now manned by an armed constable.

An amphibious patrol vehicle is also stationed at the chowky.

Mr. Tandel said that his own fishermen had repeatedly caught illegal fishing boats and handed them over to the authorities, but that the fishermen were released.

“Over the last two months, we have caught 15 illegal fishing boats, in addition to 12 illegal fishing boats from Gujarat, at the Sassoon Dock and handed the fishermen over to the police. However, the police only took them into custody and let them go,” Mr. Tandel alleged.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Port Zone) Kirankumar Chavan said, “Illegal fishing is doubtless a concern and we do take action. I am aware of illegal fishermen being brought to us by fishermen. As per the law, we fined them under the Bombay Police Act and handed them over to the Fisheries department for further action.”

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