While interrogating the recently apprehended pirates, the police said rampant poverty and unemployment back home in Somalia pushed them into piracy.
The police sources said that the pirates were promised a hefty reward if they managed to bring back a hijacked vessel.
Giving an example of their harsh life back home, a police officer said: “The 61 pirates who were captured on March 13 were lodged at Yellow Gate police station on the first day. Even though the space was small and cramped they told us it was better than the conditions they were used to.”
“When we asked them why they took up piracy, they told us that it was the only way for them to earn a living,” said Quaiser Khalid, deputy commissioner of police (Port Zone). Police officials told the Hindustan Times that they seemed happy to be in custody. “They say they are safe and assured of the fact that they would at least get the basic necessities here,” said Khalid.
“Many of them were paid a small percentage of the promised amount before they set out. This was to ensure that they go through with the job. We have the contact number of the person who made the offer, but there is nothing that can be done if the country’s law enforcement is deficient,” said Khalid.
Experts said the economic condition of Somalia is one of the biggest reasons for increased piracy.
“In February 2010, one dollar equalled 33,300 Somalian shillings. Sustaining oneself in such a rapidly inflating economy is tough,” said Neeraj Hatekar, professor, department of economics, Mumbai University.
The police said the interrogation also revealed that all the apprehended pirates come from small, impoverished villages in Somalia where fishing is the most widely practised profession. “They couldn’t sustain themselves with fishing. From what they (the pirates) tell us, they could barely afford two meals a day back home,” said an officer from the Yellowgate police station.
The police said another reason for piracy is the easy access they have to the sea.
“Geographically, there are several other nations such as Kenya, which have an equally easy entry to the sea. However, the law enforcement in Somalia is unable to ensure that such impoverished people are not targeted. Further, it’s easier to gain access to fake documents and weapons there,” said Khalid.