Menace of piracy

There were also reports of conviction and imprisonment for 80 years of some pirates by a US court. In spite of all the efforts being made by different countries to eliminate piracy the pirates have been expanding their activities. The figures released by the International Maritime Bureau prove this. There are still many ships which are being held by the pirates and a number of sailors are in captivity.

Once a ship is captured, negotiations usually end up in payment of ransom for the release of the ship and the captives. Therefore it is good news that a ship which was hijacked last December has now been captured by the Navy.

As it has become usual practice, the pirates were using the hijacked ship as a mother vessel from where they launched operations to capture other ships. But it has been a matter of surprise that the navies of many countries, including the US Sixth Fleet, have not been able to eliminate this threat posed by irregular, ragtag bands of outlaws.

Coordinated action has been lacking, in spite of efforts by the UN Security Council to deal with the problem. Indian ships have prevented some attacks in the past and India has set up a Coast Guard station in Lakshadweep to respond more quickly to calls for help. There are over 50 Indians who are held hostage by Somali pirates.

The government has ruled out direct negotiations with the pirates for their release and so their lives depend on the willingness of the shipping companies to pay ransom. The government should take a more active role in securing the release of  hostages. Payment of compensation has also not been satisfactory. Families of the crew of a ship which has been missing since 2005 have still not got their  compensation.

There is no domestic law on piracy and the government is planning to formulate one. While this is needed, it is more important to take effective action on the seas, coordinate anti-piracy operations with other countries, help in the release of hostages and extend aid to their families.

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