NHRC notice to the Government of Karnataka and Union Defence Ministry over missing fishermen (13.05.2019)

New Delhi, 13th May, 2019

The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report that more than four months after the disappearance of Suvarna Tribuja, a fishermen boat from Udupi, Karnataka, the seven fishermen on board it are still missing. Reportedly, the India Navy stopped the search operation after finding the wreckage of the vessel was discovered 33 km west-south-west off the coast of Malvan in Sindhudurg district of Maharashtra has found the wreckage of the boat . The boat had left for a deep sea fishing expedition off the coast of Goa on December 16, 2018.

The Commission has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Karnataka to look into the contents of the news report and take immediate steps to redress the grievance of the relatives and family members of the missing fishermen.

A notice has also been issued to the Union Defence Secretary, to inform the Commission about the latest update or status of the search operation, made in the meantime, by the Indian Navy in deep sea for the recovery of seven missing fishermen. Both the reports have to be submitted within six weeks.

Issuing the notices the Commission has observed that the disappearance of seven fishermen who went deep into the sea for fishing is a serious concern. All of them are earning members of the family and mostly belong to the fishermen community of the region and the recklessness attitude of the public officials and government agencies with regard to whereabouts of the missing fishermen has aggravated the cause of concern of the family members of the missing fishermen. The family members of the missing fishermen also have the legitimate expectation from the government agencies to make proper search to find out the missing fishermen which according to the news report did not happen.

It has further observed that the contents of the media report, referred by Mr. Adarsh G.K., General Secretary, Human Rights Forum, exemplifies the unabated failure to take timely action by the public authorities to find out the missing fisherman. Life of the fishermen is very precious and that should be protected under any cost and therefore it feels that the government agencies have failed to take more effective steps to prevent this kind of incident.

The news report, carried on the 3rd May, 2019, also states that the Indian Navy confirmed that the It is also reported that the wreckage was found by INS Nireekshak, a diving support vessel of the Indian Navy through side scan sonar operations. The wreckage was confirmed by naval divers who drove to a depth of 60 metres. The news report further suggested that the fishing boat with seven fishermen on boat had left the coast of Goa which had made last contact with six other boats from Udupi which were also fishing of off the coast of Goa on a morning of December 16, 2018. Thereafter, the boat and fishermen were untraceable.

The news report has also given the details of the name of the men on boat which included Chandrashekar who owned the boat along with six men Damodar, Lakshman, Sathish, Ravi, Harish and Ramesh. The search team found three canisters from the sea in the month of December and thereafter there was no further trace of the ship.