With piracy assuming menacing proportions in Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden, the government is mulling over a proposal to deploy armed guards onboard Indian merchant ships to thwart hijacking bids.
Navy sources on Tuesday confirmed the proposal mooted by the shipping ministry to combat the epidemic of piracy was under consideration.
A final decision would be taken after discussions among the ministries of defence, law and shipping.
Currently, 53 Indian seafarers onboard five different ships remain in the captivity of pirates, who have been emboldened by a string of successful hijackings.
The sources said the idea was to replicate on the high seas the concept of sky marshals deployed on commercial aircraft to prevent hijackings.
The hostage crisis off the Somali coast has lent urgency to the government’s plans to fight the scourge of piracy.
The government last week announced setting up of an apex group under the cabinet secretary to monitor the early release of Indian sailors or vessels.
Countries such as Yemen and Malta have reportedly authorised merchant vessels to deploy armed guards to keep ransom-hungry pirates away.