Rameswaram(TN), Nov 14 (PTI) Two Tamil Nadu fishermen were injured after being hit by a stray bullet allegedly fired during a training exercise by the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) personnel in the sea near here, police said today. The Coast Guard, however, denied the incident.
The fishermen, identified as Arockiasamy and Johnson from Pamban, were hospitalised, police said, adding, their condition was stable.
The bullet allegedly fired by the Coast Guard is suspected to have been shot off target and hit the duo, who were fishing at nearby Devil’s island yesterday.
The stray bullet without gun powder, pierced the upper arm of Arockiasamy and then hit Johnson in his upper limb, police said. However, it was removed from the limb by Johnson himself.
Police said that Johnson during investigation alleged that coast guard personnel had also detained them for several hours for no reason and threatened them with dire consequences if they revealed the alleged firing incident to anyone.
Denying any such incident involving its personnel, the ICG said, “no fisherman has been fired upon by any CG ship in Palk Bay.”
It may have be an attempt by the fishermen to “divert” attention as they were checked and warned by the Indian Coast Guard Ship against “unauthorised” paired trawling, the ICG said in a statement.
Tamil Nadu IT Minister M Manikandan, meanwhile, told PTI over phone that the matter would be taken up with the Centre to ensure that such incidents did not recur.
Alleging that the two men were shot in the Indian waters by the ICG personnel, fishermen’s association here sought police action against those who fired at them.
The Coast Guard while denying any firing by its personnel said that the fishing crew in question was involved in “unauthorised” paired trawling.
A Coast Guard vessel on patrol off the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) in Palk Bay “was routinely” investigating fishing boat ‘Jehovah Jireh’, its statement said.
The vessel was investigating the boat “for paired trawling on November 13, 2017 at about 1440 hrs,” the statement said. Paired trawling is not authorised in the state of Tamil Nadu.
“On approaching of Coast Guard Ship, the fishing boat Jehovah Jireh ran away from the scene by leaving the nets in the water and did not stop despite repeated caution by Coast Guard ship,” it said.
During the chase, the fishing boat “also rammed” into the ICG ship and was stopped and boarded after 50 minutes, it said, adding, the boat crew was interrogated for “running away.”
It was also cautioned for non-stopping for security checks, the statement said.
“No fishermen has been fired upon by any CG ship in 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 firing incident as alleged by the fishing boat Jehovah Jireh.” “It may be an attempt by fishermen to divert the attention as they were checked and warned by Indian Coast Guard Ship for paired trawling and non-stopping when directed to do so,” the statement added.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.