In the face of criticism, the Director of Port, Shipping and Navigation in Lakshadweep administration has quietly withdrawn the order for deployment of government staff on fishing boats.
Sachin Sharma, the director, also reversed the order of May 28 by which security around ports, jetties, ships and other vessels was raised to level-2 ‘on the basis of recent intelligence inputs.’
In an email message to the Deputy Director (S&T), Kochi, all assistant directors, all port assistants on island, the CSO of Lakshadweep Development Corporation Ltd (LDCL) and Assistant Commandant of CISF in Kochi on June 7, Mr. Sharma cited the orders of May 28 and June 2 ‘regarding strengthening of security in ports/ships and jetties’ and says that ‘as per further inputs, all concerned may revert back to standard protocol and SOPs (standard operating procedures) (sic).’
The Lakshadweep Government Employees’ Union had, the other day, taken exemption to the order asking for government employees to go on board fishing vessels for intelligence collection. The order was also criticised by fishers’ forums. Sources said maritime security agencies were also peeved with the order which was interpreted as interfering with their jurisdictional powers.
The June 2 communication was about a security review meeting chaired by Advisor to the union territory Administrator. It said decisions had been taken to deploy government staff on fishing craft, strengthen security measures to monitor local fishing boats and intensify checking of motorised and passenger vessels.
It had also ordered measures for installation of CCTV cameras at berthing ports and the helibase and baggage and passenger checking facility at Mangalore and Beypore ports. The LDCL had been asked to ‘inform ship masters to remain vigilant and alert’ and the CISF was to beef up security of the wharf in Kochi for vessels to Lakshadweep.