More operational and legal teeth to Navy and Coast Guard
India now plans to take the battle to the pirates, with measures finalized to give more operational and legal teeth to Navy and Coast Guard. This will enable the two maritime forces to operate “much more aggressively” against sea brigands on the high seas than ever before.
Under the new “rules of engagement” and standard operating procedures firmed up, Indian warships will now engage or disable pirate ships in “a far more pro-active manner”.
“Till now, our warships were usually opening fire in self-defence or if pirates were found attacking or hijacking merchant vessels. The new measures will also include stepped-up VBSS (visit, board, search and seizure) operations. But force used will be proportional to resistance offered, in line with UN laws,” said a source.
There will also be some additional deployment of warships off the coast of Somalia as well as Arabian Sea to “sanitize” the routes being taken by Indian-flagged merchant vessels.
With the government being criticized for its lackadaisical attitude to the entire piracy issue, and 53 Indian sailors still in the captivity of Somali pirates, the Cabinet Committee on Security met under PM Manmohan Singh on Friday to approve a slew of measures to take on the menace.
These include more intensive diplomatic efforts, closer coordination with navies of “friendly foreign” countries operating in Gulf of Aden, stepped up contact with owners of hijacked ships, and creation of an inter-ministerial group (IMG) under the cabinet secretary. “The IMG will act as the apex forum to monitor the early release of Indian ships, cargo or crew,” said foreign minister SM Krishna.
Source: Times of India