Qatar detains 32 Bahrain-based Indian fishermen

July 18, 2011

More than 32 Bahrain-based Indian fishermen were held by Qatar in June for reportedly straying into Qatari waters, prompting the New Delhi envoy in Doha to issue strong warnings to fellow citizens.

Addressing the media following a monthly community forum, Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, the Indian ambassador in Doha, said that fishermen should be aware of the implications of crossing international waters.

“Most of the fishermen stray into Qatari waters unintentionally due to weather conditions or other problems,” the ambassador said.

“The embassy and community here are always ready to help them when they are detained by the officials here. However, there are judicial procedures and legal action they will have to face. If they are detained or imprisoned, their livelihood is affected, hence they should be careful,” she said, quoted by Qatari daily The Peninsula.

Only 12 of the fishermen caught by Qatar in June were allowed to return to Bahrain, while 17 were sentenced to one-month imprisonment. The remaining three will have a court hearing on July 21.

“The embassy and Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF) have been following the case closely. The fishermen were released and housed in a temporary accommodation during the procedures, and they were supplied with food and money until they were sentenced,” an official said.

Dwindling fish stocks usually force fishermen to venture into the territorial waters of other countries.

Currently, there are five fishermen held for straying into Qatari waters in 2010. One has been sentenced to one-year imprisonment which will end in 2012 and a UAE-based fisherman who was nabbed by Qatari coastguards in September 2010 will be leaving Qatar on July 18, with tickets supplied by the Indian Embassy.

“When we are informed about these issues, we immediately contact the Indian embassies in the countries where the fishermen are based. They contact the sponsors, who, in most cases come to us and help release the fishermen by paying fines. All cases of missing fishermen should be immediately informed to the Embassy and Coastguard officials,” the ambassador said.



About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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