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Gulf Indian fisherman's release sought

india Updated: Aug 28, 2006 17:10 IST

A petition signed by over 300 Indians, has sought the release of a Bahrain-based Indian fisherman who was arrested over nine months ago, when his vessel strayed into Qatari waters.

The petition, addressed to Qatari Amir Shaikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, was handed over to the Indian Ambassador in Bahrain Balkrishna Shetty.

Faisal Chathoth, 28, a Bahrain-based fisherman, was arrested in November last year by the Qatari Coast Guard after his vessel entered Qatari waters following a spell of bad weather.

While three of his Indian crew members were released soon after, Chathoth was jailed and fined 100,000 Qatari riyals.

The Bahrain-based Vatakara Muslim Welfare Association has been spearheading the move to secure the Indian fisherman's release.

Association general secretary Musthafa Peringadi was quoted as saying: "We're hoping that it (the petition) will be sent to the Indian Embassy in Qatar who will take necessary steps for Chathoth's freedom."

Peringadi has also requested Shetty to forward the appeal to the Indian government as well.

Under Qatari law, if the captain of a vessel is unable to pay any fine imposed on him, he will have to serve an extra six months in jail.

"The fine they imposed was tremendous, nobody can pay it and certainly not Faisal's family or his sponsor," said Peringadi.

Meanwhile, Chathoth's Bahraini sponsor, who wanted to meet him in jail, was denied access by the Qatari authorities, the report said.

Incidentally, it was the second time a boat under Chathoth's command had strayed into Qatari waters.