India’s Central Industrial Security Force is considering a proposal to deploy armed guards onboard Indian merchant vessels
Indian Merchant Ships May Get CISF Protection Against Somali Pirates
Amid rising concerns among ship owners who have to rely on private security agencies for ensuring pirates are kept at bay, the Centre is reportedly mulling over a proposal to deploy armed Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) guards onboard Indian merchant vessels.
Once a decision in this regard is taken, 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.
“The Government is desirous of giving the responsibility to us (CISF).
However, no decision has been taken and the nuances are being deliberated upon,” CISF director general Rajiv told reporters while interacting during the annual Press conference of the force. “Once we are entrusted with the new responsibility, we will need to train our personnel with the Indian Navy to acclimatise them for long-haul travelling on sea and we will also have to see how they will operate as the CISF is an armed force,” he said.
The DG said that while the CISF is guarding a number of sea ports, some more port-related duties can be entrusted to his men in the future.
Last month, Union Shipping Secretary K Mohandas had said in Kochi that India was contemplating utilising services of armed guards from paramilitary forces for security duty on board merchant vessels.
At present, several vessels, sailing with Indian flags, were currently relying on security agencies employing foreign nationals in piracy infested waters.
There are over 10,000 private vessels registered in India and ferry consignments worth thousands of crore and private armed guards are not permitted to use weapons of high calibre and only a Government agency like the CISF can be entrusted with such jobs as the pirates are known to use sophisticated weapons.
The Indian National Ship-Owners Association has been pressing for such security cover for the last one year but the proposal is at a discussion stage in the Shipping and Home Ministries.
Source: The Daily Shipping Times