FIR filed against Coast Guard staff
Didn’t fire at fishermen, say officials; bullet to be sent for forensic test
The marine police of the Coastal Security Group on Tuesday registered an FIR against Coast Guard men for allegedly firing at Rameswaram fishermen when they were fishing in Indian waters on Monday. A special team, headed by an inspector, will be formed to investigate the case.
The marine police of the Coastal Security Group (CSG) on Tuesday registered a First Information Report (FIR) against the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) for allegedly opening fire on Rameswaram fishermen when they were fishing in Indian waters on Monday.
Acting on a complaint lodged by K. Pichai Arokiyadass, 37, one of the two fishermen injured in the ‘firing,’ Raja Rajan, inspector of police, CSG, registered the FIR under Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC and Section 27 (1) of the Arms Act, 1959. The marine police have cited Coast Guard personnel from ‘ICG vessel 77’ as accused in the FIR. D. Ashok Kumar, Superintendent of Police, CSG, said a special team, headed by an inspector would be formed to investigate the case.
The fishermen and the Coast Guard personnel concerned would be questioned during the investigation, he said. The bullet produced by the fishermen would be sent to the forensic laboratory for analysis.
‘Boat did not stop’
Meanwhile, the ICG has denied having opened fire on the fishermen. In a statement in Chennai, the agency said: “No fishermen had been fired upon by any CG ship in the Palk Bay. Further, rubber bullets are not used by Indian Coast Guard ships. No injury or bruises have been inflicted by any Coast Guard personnel by firing or otherwise as alleged by the fishermen. It may be an attempt by the fishermen to divert the attention as they were checked and warned by the Coast Guard ship for ‘pair trawling’ and for not stopping when directed to do so,” the ICG said.
It said the Coast Guard vessel on patrol off the International Maritime Border Line in Palk Bay was questioning fishermen for ‘pair trawling’ (which is banned) when fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’ (IND TN 09 MM 221) “ran away from the scene” leaving behind the nets. It did not stop despite repeated requests.
During the chase, the boat rammed the Coast Guard ship and was stopped after a 50-minute chase.
The Coast Guard personnel reprimanded them for not stopping for security checks.
Reacting to the statement, fishermen leaders said the firing took place in broad daylight and the denial by the Coast Guard was an attempt to cover up its “blunder”. The bullet recovered from the boat proved that the Coast Guard resorted to firing, they added.
Shell-shocked: The injured fishermen at a hospital in Rameswaram.