After being neutralized by combined naval forces, Somali pirates are shifting their activities towards India, says India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. But, says Parrikar, his country is watchful.
“Because their (shipping) lanes are heavily guarded, they have slightly moved to this side (30-40 nautical miles). They are still 450 nautical miles away from India,” he told reporters at an international conference on Sunday.
Piracy has been a major concern for Indian seafarers and for the nation as a whole as most of India’s shipping trade passes Somalia and the Gulf of Aden. Seven Indian sailors kidnapped by Somali pirates more than four years were freed last October, and an Inter-Ministerial Group was set up by the Ministry of Shipping earlier this year to deal with hostage situations arising from piracy incidents on merchant vessels with Indian crew.
Security in the Indian Ocean
Parrikar called for greater cooperation between the neighboring countries on Sunday, saying the Indian Ocean can be an enricher and also a destroyer, reports the Press Trust of India.
Speaking about China’s perceived strength in the region, Parrikar said India wants cordial relations with its neighboring countries.
“India is exchanging joint exercises, discussions and training with other countries. Around 38 countries are sending their defense personnel to India for training,” he said, adding India was planning to export defense material to these counties, reports The Times of India.
Echoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks earlier this month, Parrikar said he would like to see the establishment of a common platform for the Indian Ocean rim region. India’s strength lies in non-violence, but this can only be practiced by those who are strong, he said.