Bengaluru: Nine fishermen were confined to their boats for over 2 months as they strayed into the Iranian waters whilst fishing off the Dubai coast. They are acknowledged to be from Bhatkal, a coastal town in Uttara Kannada district, Karnataka. Their boat has been held captive since July-end at an island, which is almost 1,000 km from Tehran.

Times of India spoke to some of the fishermen, who identified themselves to be from Bhatkal. One of the fisherman, Mohammed Sharief (37), stated, “We left Bhatkal for Dubai on April 25 this year. We were working there and on July 21, we took a boat out for fishing. I think we accidentally strayed into Iran. We were arrested on July 27 and we have been detained at Kish land.”

The others, who have identified themselves to be from Bhatkal, are Abdal Hussain (46) Ibrahim Mulla (44), Abdullah Dangi (40), Ansar Ismail Bapu( 39), Jaffer Thadlikar (35), Ateeq Gharu( 33), Nayeem Bhandi (32), and Usman Bambaikar (31). 

The fishermen were held captive along with the owner of the Dubai-registered boat. 

Mohammed also stated that they were taken to a police station where a case was registered and they have been detained in their boat for the last 73 days. Only one of the nine men were allowed to get the essentials each day whilst the rest are apprehended to the boat, said Ibrahim Mulla. 

Sharief also mentioned that in addition to them there were nine other fishermen in two boats from Karnataka. “We have now reached out to the Indian embassy and are waiting for help,” added Sharief.  When TOI followed up the statement and contacted the Indian Embassy in Iran, officials established that they have received the request from Sharief and that they were working on the formalities of their release. 

The officials were also asked about the other nine Indian fishermen, if being held captive, they did not respond to it. An official said, “We have already written to the ministry of external affairs. We expect that we will be able to get these men released in another month.” 

The fishermen also stated that among the other nine fishermen, seven were from Kumta in the district of Uttara Kannada and the other each from Udupi and Honnavar.