Sixteen crew members also detained with vessels
In an unprecedented move against Indian vessels in the Persian Gulf, Iranian naval guards have seized four Indian fishing vessels for “trespassing on the country’s territorial waters” in the Arvand waterway.
Arvand, also known as Shatt al-Arab, is a 200 km long river at the confluence of the Euphrates and the Tigris near Basra port city of Iraq. The southern end of of the river constitutes the border between Iraq and Iran.
According to Tehran based Press TV, Colonel Mohammad-Ali Musivand, commander of Abadan Navy Base, told the Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) that the Indian vessels were seized on Saturday morning during a patrol by Iranian naval forces. Sixteen crew members were arrested as “border intruders.”
The official sources said that all detained people will be freed after Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes necessary measures to resolve the issue. Iran closely monitors all movements in its territorial waters to protect marine life and ensure the security of the country’s sea borders, say source.
Indian officials have not reacted to the incident yet.
Iran’s Supreme leader Ali Khamenei, while meeting with Navy commanders in November last year, had highlighted Iran’s naval forces achievements in safeguarding national interests and their effective role in ensuring the security of international waters.
In July 2015, Indian guards had caught an Iranian boat off Kerala coast with a satellite phone and Pakistan’s identity court on it. A 12-member crew from Iran on the vessel were arrested and handed over to the police. Indian officials claimed of recovering a satellite phone set and one Pakistani identity card from the boat. The coast guard officials claimed that interception was based on intelligence input from central and state agencies, including Kerala police.
In January 2016, Iran had detained 10 US sailors from two small navy vessels for “straying” into Iranian waters. They were later released after Washington opened direct contacts with Iran seeking their release. Two countries don’t enjoy diplomatic ties since 1979 Islamic revolution.