Mumbai, April 4: A mechanised fishing vessel similar to the one used by the ten Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists who attacked India's financial capital back in Nov 2008 was seized by the Coast Guard after five men were arrested from it on Thursday.
Acting on the basis of intelligence inputs, the Coast Guard sent an interceptor 'Charlie 154' late on Wednesday evening as some persons on board the MSV Yusufi were using a Thuraya satellite phone to keep in contact with a man named Usman in Dubai.
The calls made from MSV Yusufi aroused suspicion mainly
because fisherfolk have been barred from talking on satellite
phones while at sea. Thuraya phones were banned in 2010. The Coast
Guard managed to intercept the mechanised vessel shortly after
midnight. However, Coast Guard officials found only 28 goats on it
apart from the five crew members of MSV Yusufi.
The men averred that they were Gujaratis but could not produce any proof to back their claim although it is mandatory for all the fishermen venturing out to sea to carry identity cards.
Two of the men admitted during interrogation that they discarded the Thuraya satellite phone just minutes before 'Charlie 154' intercepted MSV Yusufi. Quite a few dead goats were also thrown into the waters at that time, the men confessed.
As soon as the vessel was escorted to a jetty here around 7.30 a.m on Thursday, the Anti-Terrorist Squad and Intelligence officials started interrogating the crew members. Officials of the Home Ministry and the Navy are also involved in the effort to find out what exactly the five men dumped into the sea, and why.
The Coast Guard suspects that MSV Yusufi could have carried a consignment of drugs. The crew members while talking to Usman mentioned more than once that they were transporting some "goods" on his behalf to Mumbai.
If indeed the vessel was bringing drugs, the police and intelligence agencies would not be too concerned. Their major worry is preventing a terror attack on the lines of 26/11. It is worth noting that Ajmal Kasab accompanied by his nine accomplices reached Mumbai from Karachi in a fishing vessel and then wreaked havoc here for nearly three days.