Mumbai: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) intercepted a Pakistani vessel ‘Al Madina’ and seized 194 packets of suspected narcotics substances.
The fishing vessel with six crew onboard had a Karachi registration. Initial reports suggest that drugs worth Rs 500-600 crore have been siezed.
An ICG spokesperson said that credible information was available on May 19 about the possibility of a Pak vessel engaged in drug trafficking entering Indian waters, crossing the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL), off the Gujarat Coast.
The ICG also had similar inputs from the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence on May 20.
“After assessing the situation based on all these inputs, the ICG Ship Arinjay, patrolling off Indo-Pak IMBL, was alerted about the suspect vessel. Two additional Interceptor Boats -- C-437 and C-408 -- too were also tasked from Jakhau and Okha to augment the search for the suspect vessel. ICG Dornier aircraft was also launched from Porbandar for aerial recce in the area,” an ICG spokesperson said.
The ICG assets kept a close watch on all vessels in the area while extensive search continued to track the suspected vessel.
“ICG ships classified various contacts in the area and kept them under constant surveillance. During search, one fishing boat was observed to be suspicious and our ships in area shadowed the suspect vessel during the night of May 20,” the spokesperson said.
Al Madina is said to have crossed towards Indian side of IMBL on Tuesday morning and started moving towards the Jakhau coast.
The vessel was intercepted by ICG ship Arinjay at 9.15 am (IST) on Tuesday, about eight nautical miles inside the Indian waters.
The vessel is being escorted to Jakhau harbour for detailed investigation and rummaging.
Many attempts thwarted
ICG Director General Rajendra Singh confirmed that contraband worth more than Rs 5000 crore has been seized so far from multiple anti-narcotics and anti-smuggling operations.
In March, Indian Coast Guard ship Rajratan, in joint operation with ATS, Gujarat, seized about 100 kg of heroin from a suspected Pakistani dhow off the coast of Gujarat apprehending nine Iranian crew of the vessel.
“Pakistan has been on the forefront in sending dhows and vessels to Indian waters loaded with contraband goods. We have a robust network and anti-smuggling plan that has mostly foiled all attempts,” says an ICG official.
With the frequent induction of many interceptor vessels and ships, the ICG officials are better-equipped to take on smugglers trying to enter Indian waters.
The upgraded coastal security plan and its constant revisions post 9/11 have helped the cause of ICG in a big way.
“We are better equipped now with the networking with our own internal assets and that of other agencies going up by many folds. The regular interactions with all stakeholders mandated for the coastal security of India is helping the cause,” says an official.Last month ICG had inducted a vessel C-441 capable of undertaking close coast surveillance, interdiction, search and rescue operations at Vizhinjam Harbour in the southern tip of Kerala.