FIR filed against Coast Guard staff

Didn’t fire at fish­er­men, say of­fi­cials; bul­let to be sent for foren­sic test

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - D.J. Wal­ter Scott Ra­manatha­pu­ram

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.

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