India: Guards await deployment on vessels as SOPs not yet ready

NEW DELHI: More than a year after government decided to have chosen paramilitary guards onboard merchant vessels to protect them in pirate-infested waters, the securty personnel are still not deployed as operational procedures in this regard are yet to be framed. 

Last year, after two Italian marines allegedly killed two Indian fishermen in February, the government had asked the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to speed up the process of preparing a contingent of specially trained personnel to render security duties while travelling onboard ships that carry the Indian flag.

However, the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and rules of engagement for the deployment of these paramilitary troopers are yet to be completed and operationalised, sources said.

The CISF has already trained a 150-plus contingent under the tutelage of the Navy and the Coast Guard and the commando trained personnel have also undergone training in dealing with exigencies on sea.

“The squad has been prepared but the actual deployment on a chosen number of ships will only take place once we have the SOPs that have to be followed while rendering this important task. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) amongst other rules need to be framed,” a senior CISF officer said.

A five-member security detachment including a commander will be deployed onboard every ship.

Once a decision is finalised, the CISF personnel will travel with the vessels in the Indian Ocean region up to the tip of Somalia, which is prone to piracy incidents, and then re-board an incoming vessel to get back to their base in India.

At present, several vessels, sailing with Indian flags, were currently relying on security agencies employing foreign nationals in waters vulnerable to piracy.


Original Article