Bangladesh fishermen adrift without food rescued by Odisha fishermen

Indian Coast Guard handed over 20 fishermen to its Bangladeshi counterpart

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) repatriated 20 Bangladeshi fishermen, who were drifting without food in their fishing boat in the Bay of Bengal for a week, before being rescued by Odisha fisherfolk near the Indo-Bangladesh International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) on Sunday.

The ICG said here: “The ICG ship Sarojini Naidu undertook successful repatriation of one Bangladeshi fishing boat ‘Allahar Daan’ along with 20 Bangladeshi fishermen at INDO-Bangladesh IMBL. They were formally handed over Bangladesh Coast Guard Ship Shadhin Bangla.”

“The Bangladeshi boat was reported adrift at sea due to engine breakdown and was sighted by Indian fishermen. The Indian fishermen displaying humanity provided necessary assistance to the boat and towed the distressed boat to Paradip on December 26,” it said.

The repatriation marked the culmination of the saga of the Bangladeshi fisherfolk, who had struggled hard to stay alive in hostile conditions.

The 20 fishermen set out for fishing in the Bay of Bengal by a boat on December 7 from the Bangladesh coast. Around December 11, the boat developed technical snag in the engine. Adding to their misfortune, the batteries of their walkie-talkie and mobile phones got drained without any power back-up, disconnecting their communication with the outside world.

Staring at an uncertain future, the fishermen started rationing their stocked food. They could stretch time with limited food till December 19 while their boat kept drifting. They resorted to drinking salty seawater to survive.

During the day, they gazed around for hours, hoping to find a boat or ship in their vicinity. Their resolve to stay alive weakened when darkness shrouded the vast ocean.

On December 26, local fishermen sighted the directionless boat off the Odisha coast. The Bengali-speaking Bangladeshi fishermen were barely able to narrate their miseries at the time of their rescue. They had shrunk significantly without food and water. Subsequently, the Odisha fishermen towed their vessel with two mechanised boats to the Paradip fishing harbour.

“The incident highlights the importance given by Indian fishermen to help mariners or fishermen at sea in distress, irrespective of nationality, thereby forming an important link in ensuring safety of life at sea,” the ICG said.

The ICG in coordination with the Marine Police at Paradip provided shelter to the boat and its crew on humanitarian grounds.

The ICG said: “The ICG not only provides solace to fishermen and mariners in distress, but also provides humanitarian assistance. Such operations highlights the coordinated response between Coast Guard agencies of India and Bangladesh demonstrating mutual commitment for safety of fishermen at sea and further strengthening the bilateral relationship between the two countries.”

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