Paradip : In a mid-sea confrontation, the crew of a sea-worthy fishing trawl was shot dead by coast guard personnel in Gahirmatha marine sanctuary area about 5 nautical miles off Paradip coast.
The deceased person who was the driver of the vessel has been identified as Mayadhar Mallick, a native of Balaramgadi fishing village of Balasore district, police said.
The coast guard patrol unit engaged in protection of olive ridley turtles in the marine sanctuary area had spotted the vessel intruding into the prohibited sea zone. As the patrol team tried to intercept it, the crews of the rogue vessel retaliated. Later the coast guard was forced to open fire. A crew of the vessel sustained bullet wound and succumbed to injuries, said coast guard personnel.
Later the body was retrieved and was handed over to Paradip marine police. The rogue vessel has been detained at Paradip fishing harbour. The matter has been referred to Paradip marine police station for investigation, they said.
Prohibition on sea fishing remains enforced round the year within the marine sanctuary limits. However sea patrolling is stepped up within the Gahirmathamarine sanctuary water territory during November-May every year in view of the annual mass nesting season of endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles, they added.
The local trawl operators’ association however described it as a cold-blooded murder.
“The crews of the vessel had not retaliated as it being alleged by coast guard. The CG opened fire without any prior provocation. In the name of turtle protection, the coast guard, marine police and forest department unleashed terror in Gahirmatha region”, alleged President Paradip Trawl operators’ association, Srikant Parida.