Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools
The global site for cruising sailors
Sections
You are here: Home / Users / doina / India, Cape Comorin - Act of Piracy in Kunniyakumari

India, Cape Comorin - Act of Piracy in Kunniyakumari

By doina — last modified Jan 21, 2009 07:52 PM

Published: 2009-01-21 19:52:55
Topics: Piracy Reports 2006

I'd like to report on an act of piracy at Kanniyakumari (Cape Comorin, India's southernmost point) in the night of the 22nd of April 2006 and on how the local authorities handled the problem.

I attached a copy of the complaint I made to the local police. After all, I must admit that the local authorities (i.e. the Customs Department) tried to stop me from making a complaint to the police and wanted me to leave immediately. They even supported the local media with wrong information, so that I found myself and my crew in the local newspaper the next day. The article gave wrong information on where we came from, where we intended to go and suggested a probable illegal immigration. Nothing about the robbery was mentioned.

While speaking to the Sub Inspector of the local police, we were told that "Kannyakumari is a very dangerous place", that "there are many thefts on boats" and that we should warn other yachts from calling in to Kanniyakumari. The police has given me a receipt in which they refer to the incident as an "act of piracy". I regard the behaviour of the local authorities as totally unacceptable.

Paul Vincent, IDLE VICE OF KIP

A copy of the complaint I made to the police:

Kanniyakumari, 23/04/2006

To: The Station House Officer, Mr. C Paul Pandi

From: Paul V ., Master of the sailing vessel "IDLE VICE"

Subject: Complaint - Act of Piracy in Kanniyakumari (Cape Comorin, India)

We, Paul V., Bruno L., Christoffer K.

were on board of the Sailing Vessel "IDLE VICE" on a coastal cruise (as tourists) from Cochin to Tuticorin. After having passed Cape Comorin we were coming closer to shore looking for a possible anchorage on the 22 nd of April 2006. At about 10 o'clock p.m. we were approached by a longtail powered fishing boat with 10+ people on it screaming and shouting. We stopped to see what they wanted.

They immediately boarded us and surrounded us in our cockpit. The captain had to block the entrance to the boat to stop the people getting inside of it.

They were picking up ropes and winch handles, moving things around and demanding Whiskey, Brandy, Beer, cigarettes, t-shirts, food and money. They totally ignored all our requests to leave the boat.

During this confusion there were two guys sitting on our well-tied liferaft on the back of the boat and one guy wandering around with a torch we could hardly stop from picking up things and trying to hide them under his longie. One guy even tried to take over the rudder while the other ones didn't stop harassing us.

Eventually they left the boat and we decided not to visit Kanniyakumari but to set course for the East Cape. We sailed for approximately seven miles before we discovered that our liferaft has been stolen. We immediately turned. On our way back to Kanniyakumari we managed to inform the local police on the incident by mobile phone (via third party). We were unable to contact the Indian Coastguard.

Returning to Kanniyakumari we were nervous when another small boat approached us. We were relieved as they identified themselves as police, so we invited them to come aboard.

A gentleman identified himself as the Superintendent of Customs. Paul V. asked him if he was aware of what had happened to us and he said “yes”. To make sure that there was no misunderstanding, Paul V. asked him if he had been contacted by the local police but didn't receive an answer. As Paul V. informed him that we were in touch with a third party being (Reverend G.) who had contacted Mr. Paul Pandi, the Superintendent of Customs advised us not to contact the local police nor the church as they would try to protect the fishermen and assured us that the Customs would find our missing liferaft.

Later on, he asked if we would leave Kanniyakumari as soon as we got our liferaft back and we replied that this would depend on the state our liferaft would be in. Five minutes after we had dropped the Superintendent of Customs at the harbour, Customs returned the empty liferaft-canister on our boat saying that we would get the rest of the liferaft in the morning. We were still hoping to get it back undamaged / unused / not fired.

At 8:30 a.m. this morning, Customs collected us and brought us to their office to hand over the liferaft. We found it inflated and with all the equipment missing.

This means:

  • A liferaft is only inflatable once and thereby of no use until it is handed back to the manufacturer for repacking.
  • The survival pack is missing. We'd like to inform you that it contains extremely dangerous high explosive rocket-flares, which still might be anywhere in your community.

Mr. Paul V. was then asked to collect the liferaft and to sign a document stating that he received his property back. This is absurd. We then went to the police. On arriving there, we were told that the Customs Department had asked the police to forward any complaint we would do to them, for investigation.

For us, this is totally unacceptable. We make this complaint on the basis that the matter will be investigated by the Police Department. We feel that piracy is a serious offense.

Paul V. (Captain)

Christoffer K. (Crew)

Bruno L. (Crew)

-----------------------------------

Report on our first meetings with the authorities in Kanniyakumari (Cape Comorin, INDIA).

CUSTOMS

When the Customs came out first to our boat, the Superintendent made several comments that the liferaft was already in their possession. They asked us to collect the liferaft as soon as possible (initially they wanted us to collect it at 3 a.m.). The Superintendent made it clear that he wanted us to collect the inflated liferaft and to leave without reporting the matter to the police. At customs, we were asked to sign a document stating that all our property had been returned to us. When we went to the police, we were informed that the Superintendent of Customs had already asked the police to forward any complaint we made for further investigation to the Customs. Statements by the Superintendent: "If we find your liferaft, will you leave Kanniyakumari?" "Don't contact to the police or the church, they will just try to protect the fishermen; we will help you."

POLICE

When complaining at the local police station, we were told that the Customs only came out to our boat because they got a phonecall accusing us of smuggling drugs to Kanniyakumari. The Customs never mentioned this while they were on our boat and only talked about our liferaft. We understood that the local police was never informed by the Customs on the robbery. The House Station Officer, Mr. Paul Pandi, stated that Kanniyakumari is a dangerous place and that there were thefts on boats before. He told us to warn other yachts not to visit Kanniyakumari.

Ironically, he said this sitting in front of a wallchart showing that in 2005 there were 3 cases of robbery in Kanniyakumari district, 3 convictions and a 100% conviction rate. We were not asked any particulars about the crime or for a description of the fishermen who boarded us to steal the liferaft or for a description of their boat.

We think that it is quite easy to get a high conviction rate by discouraging people from making a complaint.

Paul Vincent (Captain)

Bruno Langbehn (Crew)

Christoffer Kampp (Crew)

Share |