Strong measures needed to deal with piracy: Defence Ministry

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New Delhi, April 20: Not ruling out "strong measures" to deal with Somali pirates, the Defence Ministry today (April 18) said all steps would be taken to safeguard the ships transiting in piracy-hit areas of Indian Ocean region.

"I think as a deterrent that is one thing (military option) we have to definitely consider. We also have to take some strong measures, to make sure that these incidents are not repeated," Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said here.

He was talking to media persons after inaugurating a day-long seminar on ''Self Reliance in Defence and Security Markets through Innovation and Indigenisation'', organised by Indian Chambers of Commerce (ICC).

On likely solutions against piracy, Raju said, "Along with safeguarding the passage of ships, we have to work on a long term solution in containing piracy and making the sea lanes of communication safer."

"We also have to keep in view that the international community has a responsibility in trying to find a solution to original root of the problem which is the instability in Somalia," he said.

Stressing the need for an effective solution to deal with the problem of pirates, Raju said, "As government we are conscious about the safety of the hostages. At the same time we have to look at the most effective way to deal with the piracy."

Applauding the Indian Navy's efforts in the region, he stressed upon the need for preventive measures to safeguard the merchant vessels sailing in the area.

"I think Indian Navy is very effectively deployed there making sure the safe passage of the ships transiting in that area. We have also allowed them to take preventive action against the pirates trying to board those ships."

On the fate of Indians held hostage by the Somali pirates, Raju said, "The External Affairs Minister has already said that we will do all we can to safeguard the lives of the Indian held hostage by the pirates."

Indian Navy deployed a Talwar class destroyer off the Somali coast last week when the pirates refused to release the Indian hostages after their ransom demanded was met.

On the controversy surrounding the age of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General V K Singh, the Minister said, "I would not want to comment on that. I think that is being looked at in by the Ministry."

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