Coast Guard intercepts sinking vessel with contraband; 9 held

Written by: OneIndia Defence Desk
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Gandhinagar, June 26: The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) early on Thursday intercepted a suspected dhow (MSV Safina Al Meraj BDI-1331) and seized foreign-made cigarettes worth Rs 1 crore.

An ICG Spokesperson confirmed late on Thursday night that operation was launched on June 18 following specific intelligence input received through ICG Station at Okha. A small coastal town in Devbhoomi Dwarka district of Gujarat, Okha has a sea port as well.

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ICG Ship Sangram, which was on a normal patrol, intercepted the suspected dhow notwithstanding the development of cyclonic depression, at around 6.30 am on Thursday morning.

The entire ICG operation was monitored and coordinated centrally at the Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (North-West) situated in Gandhinagar.

The ICG Spokesperson confirmed to OneIndia that the dhow had left Sharjah for Salaya in Jamnagar.

"We informed VTS Gulf of Kachchh and other stakeholders and actions were duly coordinated," the spokesperson said.

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Acted upon specific intelligence inputs

It was on June 18 that the ICG network picked up an intelligence input about movement of a suspicious dhow. "We had specific information that the vessel was carrying contraband goods," the official said.

The ICG says it got on to action mode soon after confirming the inputs.

"Our units in the Gulf of Kachchh Region were alerted and continued sea presence, despite adverse weather conditions, was maintained. We investigated a number of dhows entering Gulf of Kachchh during the nights of June 18, 19 and 20," the official added.

In April this year, the ICG intercepted a Pakistan off the Porbandar coast carrying 100 kilograms of heroine. Eight suspected drug smugglers with satellite phones were detained during the operation then.

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The suspected dhow was sinking

The ICG officials said that during investigation, it was found that the dhow was sinking after it sustained some damage.
"The reason for damage is not known, but there was continuous ingress of water. To ensure safety, the dhow was thus escorted to Salaya harbour.

A joint ICG team from Okha and Vadinar was dispatched for Salaya to augment and fasten the initial rummaging ashore," the official added.

On June 25, the joint during the join rummaging by intelligence and law enforcement agencies were carried out at Salaya. The officials of Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have been intimated about the seizure.

The contraband included two cartons of Davidoff (each containing 10,000 cigarettes), 50 cartons of Gudang Garam (each containing 14,400 cigarettes) and two Thuraya (satellite phone) sets.

Among the detained were master of dhow Asan Ibrahim Subaniya and a nine-member crew onboard.

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