Coast Guard files FIR against US ship; 35 on board booked for carrying illegal arms
Two days after the detention of a ship carrying arms off Tuticorin coast, 35 persons onboard including crew members were today booked for illegally carrying weapons and ammunition even as police intensified probe to ascertain the motive behind the vessel's entry into Indian waters.
An FIR has been registered against 10 crew members and 25 guards of the M V Seaman Guard Ohio ship, now berthed in the port in Tuticorin, about 600 km from here, under the Arms Act for illegally carrying arms and ammunition, police said.
Besides, a case under the Essential Commodities Act has also been registered for buying 1,500 litres of diesel illegally with the help of a local shipping agent.
A senior Marine Police official said the ship, stated to be belonging to a US-based firm offering maritime security, was not authorised to enter the Indian water and its mandate was largely confined to regions in the Indian Ocean like the Gulf of Aden, a hotbed of piracy.
"We can always sympathetically consider innocent trespass. But this does not look so. They have authorisation to operate in Indian Ocean areas like the Gulf of Aden. But they have come up to Gulf of Mannar. We are seeing why they came here," the official told PTI from Tuticorin.
"This is illegal. If needed, diesel could have been procured through legitimate avenues by paying applicable statutory levies. Illegal diesel procurement is among the reasons for the ship coming into our adverse notice," the official said.
The armed guards have been booked under Arms Act for illegally possessing arms and ammunition on board the ship, he said, adding, "They will continue to be interrogated on board the vessel." The vessel, whose crew included eight Indians, was intercepted and detained by the Indian Coast Guard about 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin.