Vol. 4 Num 213 Wed. December 31, 2003  

46 fishermen held by Indian coast guard from Bay
All sued, now in jail, fax massage says

Forty-six Bangladeshi fishermen, caught by Indian coast guard on December 23 from Bangladesh territorial waters in the Bay, are now in jail in India.

They are facing a case under the Indian Foreigners Act, according to a fax massage received at Patharghata Press Club on December 27 from Indian fish trader Rashik Chandra of 24 Parganas of West Bengal. Rashik Chandra has trade links with fish wholesalers in Patharghata.

The arrest of Bangladeshi fishermen was known when fisherman Jalil Howlader escaped the chase by Indian coast guard and reached Patharghata with his trawler F B Mansur on December 24. He narrated the incident to local journalists.

When contacted, Patharghata Trawler Owners Association President Golam Mostofa Talukder said that six trawlers which went for fishing about a week ago and are yet to return and that he also knew about the fax massage from Indian fisherman Rasjik Chandra.

He also said Bangladesh coast guard and police have been informed of the incident.

According to Jalil, over 60 Bangladesh fishermen on board six trawlers were fishing in the deep sea in dense fog. Indian coast guard chased and caught five trawlers with 46 fishermen.

Jalil said he escaped the chased reached Patharghata.

One of the seized trawlers -- F B Four Star 1-- with some fishermen on board sank when the five trawlers were being escorted by the Indian coast guard. The coast guard personnel rescued the fishermen, Jalil said.

In his fax message Rashik Chandra stated that MR S C Shing, Deputy Commandant of Indian coast guard filed a case against the 46 Bangladeshi fishermen under Section 14 of Indian Foreigner's Act.

In the case it was stated that the Bangladesh fishermen were arrested from Indian territorial waters near Haldia thana of West Bengal.

The four trawlers taken away are F B Baba Loknath owned by Shukh Rangan of Tushkhali village under Pirozpur district, F B Nur Taz owned by Patharghata Ice Factory, F B Gazi owned by Sagir Member and F B Laboni from Chittagong.

In December last year, 112 Bangladeshi fishermen were arrested by the Indian coast guard. They returned to Bangladesh in October this year.