Diesel smugglers give Mumbai cops the slip during boat chase
Cops chase boat suspected of carrying smuggled diesel for hours in the Arabian Sea, before criminals on the other vessel flee into the deep waters in the wee hours
On November 23, three days before the ninth anniversary of the devastating 26/11 attacks, the Mumbai police spotted a suspicious boat in the dark sea. What followed was a chase to catch those on the vessel, which had to be cut short after the boat made its way past a bridge. However, unlike 26/11, this wasn't a boat full of terrorists, but one with members of a diesel smuggling ring.
Five cops on duty in Mumbai police's speedboat Mumbai-9 on Nov 23 spot a suspicious boat around 8 pm. Cops then flash a light, asking those on the vessel to stop and show their papers
The suspects have been recognised based on a video filmed by the police while they were following the men on their Mumbai-9 speedboat. On the basis of that, they've identified one Raju Pandit [see box], an oil smuggling kingpin, who was allegedly smuggling diesel at the time of the incident. When the cops spotted his boat, his associates threw tanks full of the fuel into the water. Preliminary probe also revealed that the ship belongs to one Nitin and Deepak Mali. They've also learnt about one Kunal Mhatre, who works for them and was operating the boat at the time.
Hearing this, the men on the vessel try to flee, after which the cops inform the control room. Later, DCP (port zone) Rashmi Karandikar and four others hop into another boat to join Mumbai-9
The Yellow Gate police have registered an FIR against main accused Raju, and Nitin, Deepak and Kunal under sections 343 (Wrongful confinement for three or more days), 336 (Act endangering life or personal safety of others), 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy), 260 (Using as genuine a Government stamp known to be a counterfeit), 209 (Dishonestly making false claim in Court of the Indian Penal Code and sections of Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act. None of the accused are in police custody yet.
Then, the vessel violently dashes Mumbai-9, almost sinking the speedboat. But cops manage to save it. Mumbai-9 continues chasing the vessel, but it dashes them once again. Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Around 10.30 pm, the boat crosses the Butcher Island bridge to head towards Navi Mumbai. But the speedboat can't cross the bridge, as it could touch its roof because of its height. The vessel, meanwhile, escapes. The unsuccessful search is then called off at 2 am
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai, National and International news here
Who is Raju Pandit?
Raju Pandit has been named in a long list of crimes, three of which have been registered at the Yellow Gate police station. In 2014, he was held for smuggling oil worth R1.86 crore. According to cops, he used to recruit young men into his smuggling business by luring them with the promise of easy money.