Millennium Post

Was intercepted boat really on terror mission?

The interception of a suspected Pakistani boat off the Porbandar coast in Gujarat and its dramatic act of blowing itself in mid sea has left several unanswered questions over the exact intention of the intruders and whether it was actually meant for terror related activities in India or not.

As per intelligence reports the boat sailed from Keti Bunder, a small port in Pakistan, which is close to the Indian marine boundary line near Okha in Gujarat. Questions are now being raised on why despite identifying the boat at 1 pm - with a single engine motor able to sail at a minimum restricted speed as compared to the Coast Guard ship - why it took more than 12 hours for the Indian Coast Guard Ship ‘Rajratan’ to reach close to the vessel?

Even if we factor in the distance involved, experts are confounded why ‘Rajratan’-  the 50m long IPV (Inshore Patrol Vessels), having a maximum speed of 34 knots, 50m long IPV (Inshore Patrol Vessel) took such an unusually long time to reach the location.  “The ship is commanded by Commandant (JG) CS Joshi and he is a very efficient officer. But it is hard to believe that it took so much time to reach the target,” a former Coast Guard officer said.

With state-of-the-art weaponry and advanced communication and navigational equipment, it is surprising to believe the team failed to gather any evidence or to capture at least one person to substantiate their claim that the intruders ventured into Indian waters for an ‘illicit transaction’.

On the other side what is equally baffling is why the four suspects on board didn’t make any attempt to enter Pakistan Marine territory despite seeing the Coast Guard Dornier aircraft around 1 pm (December 31), which they could easily  have considering that they were actually intercepted at midnight (after 12 hours of sighting the aircraft).

Interestingly, even the Coast Guard a day after the interception, toned down their claim using the term ‘illicit transaction’ instead of ‘suspected terrorist’.

One cannot rule out that there was some mischievous act on part of the people on board (because they had blown off the vessel to destroy evidence) but the agency still need to find out who they were, and whom they contacted in India,  Whether they were smugglers of daily essential goods mainly gutka, drinking water, diesel, grain etc. and having links with some traders in Gujarat needs to be explored.

Keti Bunder in Pakistan was once a hub of international trade activities in Sindh. But over the years due to natural calamities people in this area were left to die in hunger. Now the entire area is controlled by Shirazis and Malkanis (two communities known for their dubious activities at sea including smuggling).

It is also suspected that these communities often hire people to smuggle goods to India or  procure goods from India illegally. But their involvement in  smuggling arms to India also cannot be ruled out and the agency is presently trying to piece together all the leads.

“It might also be possible that the boat was laden with explosives and arms, which they intended to hand over to someone in India.

Meanwhile, search operations are underway to locate bodies of the crew members and wreckage.
Speaking to  media persons Coast Guard Commander (North-West Region) Kuldip Singh Sheoran said, “We saw four men on the boat, they were nowhere looking like fishermen, they wore t-shirts and half pants, and this raised suspicion on our side.”

On the context of whether the boat occupants were terrorists, he said, “Multiple Indian intelligence agencies are jointly investigating the incident and they will go to the bottom of it.”

Pakistan on Saturday, rejected India’s claim that the crew of a Pakistani fishing boat blew up and sank their vessel in an attempt to evade capture. Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson Tasneem Aslam denied that any boat from Keti Bunder port of the country’s Sindh province had sailed off.

Next Story
Share it