BGB and coastguards have been notified, says the Teknaf UNO
Myanmar Navy personnel have reportedly detained 22 fishermen and towed four trawlers off the coast of Saint Martin’s Island, inside the Bangladesh maritime boundary.
The Bangladeshi men were picked up by the neighbouring country’s naval forces at around 9:30am on Saturday, said the island's Union Parishad Chairman Nur Ahmed.
He said the fishermen were detained from the east side of the island. The circumstances that led to their detention were unclear.
Ahmed said he had spoken to some of the fishermen over the phone. “They said all of them were taken on board a Myanmar Navy ship and their trawlers had been towed. They did not know where they were being taken.
“Since then, their phones have been switched off. We have notified the Teknaf upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) and other relevant authorities.”
Teknaf UNO Parvez Chowdhury said Border Guard Bangladesh and Bangladesh Coast Guard had been informed about the situation and urged to take immediate action.
Meanwhile, Lt Commander M Habibur Rahaman, staff officer (Operations) of Bangladesh Coast Guard’s Chittagong Zone Headquarters, told Dhaka Tribune: “We are yet to receive official confirmation from Myanmar in this regard.”
He said Coast Guard personnel had talked to the other fishermen of the area. However, no one witnessed the incident. “So, we are waiting to get official confirmation from Myanmar.”
“We contacted the Bangladesh Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar, in the afternoon. The ambassador will contact the Myanmar authorities and notify us later. If we receive confirmation, then the process of bringing them back will begin,” M Habibur added.
He said: “As allegations have been raised, perhaps the incident has taken place. We expect a response from the Myanmar authorities soon.”
Despite repeated attempts, Dhaka Tribune could not reach Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen for comments in this connection.
Our Cox’s Bazar Correspondent Abdul Aziz contributed to this report