Fishermen are Coast Guard’s new eyes in the sea

March 2nd, 2009 - 11:22 am ICT by IANS  

Ahmedabad, March 2 (IANS) The Coast Guard has roped in fishermen to tip them off on suspected terrorists who might use the 1,600-km Gujarat coastline to infiltrate the country as the 26/11 attackers had used the sea route from Pakistan to India.
The Coast Guard has been educating fishermen at Okha, Jakhau, Valsad and Porbander ports to be alert and inform about any suspicious movements of vessels or people on boats by calling the toll-free number 1554, a senior coast guard official told IANS from Jamnagar over phone.

The official said that fishermen have been advised to carry mobile phones or wireless sets to communicate with the Coast Guard personnel who man the large coastal corridor round the clock.

“We have told the fishermen to even carry an FM radio with them that airs weather forecasts so that they are prepared to sail to the nearest port in case of a storm warning,” the official said.

The marine corridor along the Gujarat coast is filled with scores of fishing boats at any time of day and night, making it difficult for the security agencies to screen terrorists and infiltrators.

“It is during such occasions that the toll free number can be used to call the nearest Coast Guard vessel for intercepting any suspicious boats,” he added.

On Nov 26, 2008, terrorists hijacked an Indian vessel Kuber to enter Mumbai where they unleashed a 60-hour carnage that killed over 170 people and injured 300 more.

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