IN A major operation, the Indian Coast Guard on Tuesday chased and seized a Pakistani fishing vessel carrying 200 kg heroin, valued at a whopping Rs 600 crore, to be delivered to an Indian recipient, an official said. Following a tip-off on Monday evening, the Coast Guard lay in wait for the Pakistani vessel, “Al Madina”, seized it and detained its crew for interrogation, according to the Coast Guard’s Additional Director General, Western Seaboard, K Natarajan.
The 13-member crew of an Indian fishing vessel which was in the vicinity to receive the contraband has also been arrested. Based on Intelligence inputs from the Department of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) and other agencies that a Pakistani fishing boat was planning to deliver a huge narcotics consignment to an Indian fishing vessel, the Coast Guard were diverted ships to the location in the Arabian Sea off Jakhau in Kutch region of southwest Gujarat, bordering Pakistan. Early on Tuesday, a Coast Guard ship intercepted the “Al Madina” which resorted to evasive manoeuvres in a bid to escape.
While fleeing, the fishing vessel’s crew also managed to jettison its illegal cargo of narcotics, but the Coast Guard ships managed to retrieve the bags containing the drugs later. The Coast Guard ships continued to chase the ship and managed to apprehend it within Indian territorial waters despite encountering rough seas in the darkness.
Preliminary tests by the Coast Guard, through a drug testing kit, revealed the contraband was heroin, packed in some 195 packets weighing around 200 kg, Natarajan said. The Pakistani vessel is being searched in detail and its crew being interrogated thoroughly for further investigations, details of which are awaited. This is the second major success in an anti-narcotics operation on the high seas for the Coast Guard in the past two months. Last March, the force and a team of the Anti-Terrorism Squad from Ahmedabad had jointly effected a seizure of 100 kg heroin, valued at Rs 300 crore, off the Gujarat coast, said Natarajan.