The NHRC has sent a notice to the Defence Ministry and the Karnataka government over reports that seven fisherman were "missing" more than four months after their boat disappeared off the western coast.
Reportedly, the India Navy "stopped the search operation" after finding the wreckage of the vessel 33-km west-south-west off the coast of Malvan in Maharashtra's Sindhudurg district, the NHRC said in a statement.
"The NHRC has taken suo motu cognisance of a media report that more than four months after the disappearance of Suvarna Tribuja, a fishermen boat, from Udupi in Karnataka, the seven fishermen (who were) on board it are still missing," it said.
The boat had left for a deep sea fishing expedition off the coast of Goa on December 16 last year, the NHRC said.
The commission has issued a notice to the chief secretary to look into the content of the news report and take immediate steps to redress grievances of relatives and family members of the missing fishermen.
The rights panel said a notice has also been issued to the defence secretary, to inform it about the latest update or status of the search operation, made in the meantime, by the Navy to recover the seven fishermen.
Both the reports have to be submitted within six weeks, the statement said.
The commission has observed that the disappearance of the men, who went deep into the sea for fishing, is a serious concern.
"All of them are earning members of their families and mostly belong to the fishermen community of the region, and the reckless attitude of public officials and government agencies with regard to whereabouts of the missing fishermen has aggravated the cause of concern of the family members of the missing fishermen," the statement said.
The family members of the missing fishermen have the legitimate expectation from government agencies to conduct a proper search to find out the missing fishermen which, according to the news report, "did not happen", it said.
The NHRC has also observed that the contents of the media report, referred to by general secretary of the Human Rights Forum, Adarsh G K, "exemplifies the unabated failure" of authorities to take timely action to find the missing fisherman.
The life of these fishermen is very precious and that should be protected under any cost. Therefore, the commission feels that government agencies have failed to take more effective steps to prevent this kind of incident, the statement said.
The news report has also given details such as names of the fishermen, including that of Chandrashekar, who owned the boat, along with six others Damodar, Lakshman, Sathish, Ravi, Harish and Ramesh, it said.
The search team found three canisters from the sea in December and thereafter, there was no further trace of the boat, the statement said.
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