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Sharmili Mallick

Balasore: The body of a boat driver was retrieved by Indian Coast Guard during patrolling in deep Paradip sea. The deceased has been identified as Mayadhar Mallik of Naranpur area under Simulia police limits in Balasore district.

Though the exact reason behind the boat driver's death is yet to be ascertained, family members and president of Balaramgadi Trawler Association, Badal Das alleged that Mallik died in firing by Coast Guard personnel.

According to reports, Mallik had gone for fishing in 'Maa Kanan' boat into the sea near Balaramgadi on Friday night. However, he was found dead in the deep sea by a patrolling team of Coast Guard officials in the wee hours.

"The incident took place at around 10 pm and we got the information at around 2 am. My brother and brother-in-law had gone to fishing in Balasore boat and later got information that Coast Guard officials have shot my brother-in-law dead," alleged a relative of the deceased, Nakul Mallik.

"When we reached the ghat in the morning and went to the Paradip Port Hospital, the authorities denied showing us the body until senior police officials reach the spot," Nakul added.

Sources said the Coast Guard team while patrolling in the sea spotted and suspecting them to be involved in some anti-social activities opened fire at them.

In an official statement, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) clarified that, "While carrying out patrolling off Gahirmatha coast, the ICG ships sighted one suspicious vessel in darken condition at about 9:20 pm on Friday night. On seeing the ships, the trawler tried to flee. The officials tried to stop the boat by using loud hailers, searchlights and VHF. However, the boat did not stop and resorted to evasive manoeuvres in order to escape."

In the process, the boat rammed and caused damage to the ICG ships. The ICG ships had to fire warning shots in the air and across the bows to stop the fishing boats.

The ICG further stated that when the officials managed to stop the fishing boat, a boarding party went into the ship and found one person (Mallik) injured who was then brought to the harbour and rushed to Paradip Port Hospital where he was declared brought dead by the doctors.

Meanwhile, a board of enquiry has been ordered into the incident, read the ICG statement.

On the other hand, Rajnagar forest division arrested eight other fishermen on charges of carrying out illegal fishing in the restricted Gahirmatha area. The fishing boat has also been detained while the arrested fishermen have been produced before the court.

"None of our officials were present on the spot. But as per information, the firing took place while the Coast Guard officials were chasing the boat which was engaged in illegal fishing in Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary yesterday night,' informed Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) of Rajnagar forest division, Srirampada Arabinda Mishra.

Mishra further informed that fishermen were informed about the prohibition on fishing activities much earlier but they frequently violate such restrictions.

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