It has been reported that as many as 23 Indian fishermen have been arrested after trespassing on Diego Garcia earlier in the month.
Indian media suggest the group who were reportedly deep sea fishing, were detained by the Royal Navy for allegedly trespassing on Diego Garcia in British Indian Ocean Territory.
They cite sources in the fisheries department said that the fishermen had gone out to sea on four boats for deep sea fishing at the end of September.
Diego Garcia is an atoll located south of the equator in the central Indian Ocean, it is the largest of the 60 small islands comprising the Chagos Archipelago.
Between 1968 and 1973, the population of the territory were moved to Mauritius and the Seychelles, following which the United States built a large naval and military base on Diego Garcia with British permission, which has been in continuous operation ever since. Diego Garcia is the only inhabited island of the territory; the population is composed of military personnel from the US, UK and supporting contractors from various companies.
According to Wikileaks documents released in 2010, in a calculated move planned in 2009, the UK proposed that the territory become a “marine reserve” with the aim of preventing the former inhabitants from returning to their lands. A summary of the diplomatic cable is as follows:
“HMG would like to establish a “marine park” or “reserve” providing comprehensive environmental protection to the reefs and waters of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) official informed Polcouns on May 12. The official insisted that the establishment of a marine park—the world’s largest—would in no way impinge on USG use of the BIOT, including Diego Garcia, for military purposes. He agreed that the UK and United States should carefully negotiate the details of the marine reserve to assure that United States interests were safeguarded and the strategic value of BIOT was upheld. He said that the BIOT’s former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve.”
Additionally, Diego Garcia was used as a storage section for U.S. cluster bombs as a way of avoiding UK parliamentary oversight.
The very limited number of British military personnel located in the British Indian Ocean Territory are based exclusively on the island of Diego Garcia. Apart from providing a visible demonstration of United Kingdom sovereignty they conduct, on the behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a number of civil functions ranging from policing to customs and excise.