To fight piracy in the country, the government has mooted a proposal to equip Indian merchant vessels with armed security guards, a Union Minister said.
Union Minister for Shipping G K Vasan, in a written reply to Goa Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik, said that the proposal to deploy armed security guards on Indian merchant ships to thwart attacks by pirates in international waters is under consideration by the government.Vasan said that the Union Government will shortly take a view on this aspect, keeping in mind criminal activities affecting merchant navy ship operations.
The Goa MP had written to the Ministry that “world powers have to put in more efforts to thwart such criminal activities or else even terrorists will resort to piracy as one of the methods of terrorising the world community.”
The MP had written, “Ship owners should be authorised to carry arms for self-defence and face armed pirates, when they board their ships…It is appreciated that the Indian Navy has been playing an important role in this regard and more powers have to be given to it to tackle the problem of ship hijacking.”
In a response to the letter, Vasan said that the Indian Navy was carrying out anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden since October 2008.
“A total number of 25 Indian Navy ships have been deployed in the Gulf of Aden since then and a total of 1,573 ships, including 1,402 foreign-flagged vessels from different countries, have been escorted by Indian Navy ships in the Gulf of Aden since October 2008,” the minister said.
The Minister has further informed Naik in the letter that 29 piracy attempts have been thwarted and no ship under Indian escort has been hijacked by pirates.
“In recent naval operations, the Indian Navy has neutralised four mother ships and apprehended 120 pirates,” Vasan added.