Indian fisherman ‘shot dead’ by Pakistan coast guard in incident threatening fresh diplomatic row

·4-min read
File: Arrested Indian fishermen in a jail in Karachi on 20 February, 2016 (AFP via Getty Images)
File: Arrested Indian fishermen in a jail in Karachi on 20 February, 2016 (AFP via Getty Images)

An Indian fisherman was killed and another injured in firing by Pakistan’s maritime military after they opened fire on a fishing boat in the Arabian Sea, India’s Gujarat state police said.

Six other Indian fishermen have reportedly been apprehended and handed over to Pakistan’s police.

A case was registered on Monday by the Gujarat police against 10 Pakistani maritime security agency (PMSA) personnel on charges of murder and attempt to murder, reported India Today. The formal complaint was lodged on a complaint by Dilip Natu Solanki, a fisherman who was injured in the firing.

PMSA officials confirmed a “few Indian illegal fishing boats” were intercepted in its Eastern Maritime Region on 5 November but said it was unaware of someone being killed by their coast guards.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) confirmed the incident in an official statement, without providing details.

“The case is under investigation at present by police authorities and the crew is being interviewed jointly. Details can be shared only after completion of the investigation,” the ICG said.

"A fisherman from Maharashtra, who was on the fishing boat Jalpari, was killed after the PMSA personnel opened fire on him and other crew members on Saturday evening," said Devbhumi Dwarka superintendent of police Sunil Joshi.

India has taken “serious note of the incident” and the government will take up the issue diplomatically with the Pakistani side, a government source told Indian media outlets in New Delhi.

The deceased fisherman was identified as Sridhar Ramesh Chamre, 32, and his body was brought back to the Okha port in the western Indian state of Gujarat on Sunday. An official complaint has been lodged by police over the killing and investigations are being carried out.

“One of the boat named PADMANI KOPA not adhering to the instructions was apprehended and has been handed over to Police on 6 Nov 21 for further legal proceedings,” the PMSA said in a statement on Monday.

“PMSA is unaware of any incident where someone has been killed or injured. Further, official documents of the apprehended boat show no such name as claimed by some foreign media,” the agency added, denying any knowledge about the incident.

Mr Solanki, who is undergoing treatment for his injury, said in his complaint that seven fishermen were on board Jalpari near the international boundary for fishing when 10 PMSA personnel onboard two boats opened fire.

Manish Lodhari, a fisherman leader in Porbandar, said six fishermen on board another fishing boat were taken hostage by Pakistan and the boat was seized.

Indian officials are yet to issue a formal statement about the incident.

Jayantibhai Rathod, the owner of the boat on which a fisherman was killed, said Chamre was in the cabin of the boat when shots were fired at him.

"Three bullets hit him on the chest, following which he died. The captain of the boat was also injured in the indiscriminate firing by the Pakistani personnel," Mr Rathod told reporters, according to PTI news agency.

This is not the first incident when fishermen of the two countries have been caught in the crosshairs of fraught ties between India and Pakistan. More than 632 fishermen from India and Pakistan remained lodged in jails across both countries, according to International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL).

There are about 558 Indian fishermen currently lodged in various Pakistan jails and 74 Pakistani nationals are imprisoned in India.

Fishermen from both countries often end up breaching international borders. The sailors rely on GPS to identify the territories but there are high chances of it malfunctioning due to bad weather situations in the sea.

The Maharashtra Machimar Kriti Samiti — a fishworkers’ welfare forum — and Chamre’s family have denied that the boat trespassed into international waters.

“My son was inside Indian territorial limits,” Anusha Chamre, mother of killed fishermen, said. Chamre is survived by his wife and two daughters, aged 8 and 6.

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