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Six fishermen held in Paradip
- Arrest exposes port security loopholes

Paradip, Aug. 14: The arrest of six Myanmar nationals today once again exposed the vulnerability of the Paradip port.

The Myanmar nationals were arrested after their movement near gate no. 1 of the high-security Paradip port trust area aroused suspicion among the security personnel. The foreigners were later handed over to police at the Paradip marine police station.

“The foreign nationals are now in police custody. It’s being investigated whether they were planning any subversive activity,” said Jagatsinghpur superintendent of police S. Devdutt Singh.

Seven foreign nationals from the same country had been arrested on July 3 on charges of trespassing. The foreign nationals had infiltrated into a slum near Paradip. The arrested Myanmar nationals had been sent to jail.

“The foreign nationals (arrested today) are fishermen. We seized outdated fishing permits issued to them by the government of Myanmar. They did not have the requisite papers to enter India. They were arrested on charges of trespassing,” said Tezraj Patel, chief of Paradip marine police station.

The Myanmar fishermen have not been interrogated yet because there isn’t an interpreter. “We have so far failed to interrogate them because of language problem. We are on the look out for an interpreter who can translate for us,” Patel said.

Infiltration of illegal immigrants into Paradip port area continues to be a major cause of worry for law enforcing agencies. Nearly 100 foreign nationals from Myanmar, Bangladesh and Thailand were intercepted and arrested on charges of trespassing in the past three years.

Infiltration continues unabated, exposing the vulnerability of Paradip — one of the country’s major ports — to possible terror attack. Sources say that slack security arrangement is making Paradip a soft target.

As for the seven Myanmar nationals arrested on July 3, they have put the police in a spot of bother. Without legal aid from the Myanmar embassy, they are in for a prolonged stay in the jail.

“We have written to the Orissa police headquarters, as the jailed fishermen are of Myanmar nationality. The state police have accordingly apprised the ministry of home affairs of the arrest. The ministry will inform the Myanmar embassy about the arrest of the Myanmar nationals by the Orissa police,” said Shantanu Kumar Das, the deputy superintendent of police, Jagatsinghpur.

A police officer said the Myanmar embassy should help its citizens. “There is no one to defend them in a court of law. As there is a language barrier, local lawyers refuse to take up the case,” he said.

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