Beefing up security across the 1,600 km long Gujarat coastline, Indian Coast Guard (ICG) said on Saturday that it has deployed more Dornier aircraft and ships for patrolling. Moreover, the ICG stated that a search operation is on to recover bodies of crew members and wreckage of the vessel intercepted off Porbandar coast.
“We are alert round-the-clock, but due to these events we are on extra alert. Our ships and aircraft are doing their job of patrolling the sea,” an ICG official stated while addressing mediapersons on Saturday. ICG officials stated that security measures have also been beefed up in the wake of upcoming events like Pravasi Bharatiya Divas and Vibrant Gujarat Global Summit 2015.
On December 31, 2014, a ‘hostile’ boat from Karachi, Pakistan was intercepted by the ICG about 365 km off the Porbandar coast in Gujarat before the occupants set the vessel on fire, and which later sank with them.
Addressing mediapersons on Saturday, ICG also raised suspicion over the identity of the crew who, according to the maritime law enforcement agency, did not resemble fishermen since they were not found be carrying any nets. ICG stated that the interception was part of its standard operating procedure (SOP) based on intelligence input which suggested the vessel had set sail from Karachi in Pakistan for some illegal transaction.
When asked about the crew being possible terrorists, ICG officials stated that multiple Indian intelligence agencies are investigating their identity and the overall incident.
Explaining the incident, ICG officials said that intelligence input was received by around 8.30 am of December 31, 2014 regarding a suspicious vessel, following which the agency dispatched its Dornier aircraft and ship. While the vessel was identified by afternoon, it was only around midnight that ICG’s vessel ‘Rajratan’ could reach the boat. According to ICG, the agency officials saw four men on the boat who wore t-shirts and half pants, which further raised suspicion.
As per the agency, by around midnight, when ICG’s vessel ‘Rajratan’ reached near the boat and tried to stop it by following SOP, the latter tried to flee, leading to a one and a half hours, involving warning shots. Later, the crew set the vessel on fire, resulting in their sinking.
Meanwhile, ICG denied about any information regarding two more suspicious boats.