Suspicious vessel apprehended off Mumbai coast
On Wednesday midnight, patrolling Coast Guard ships intercepted a dhow, MSV YUSUFI, few kilometres away from Mumbai coast, that appeared to be involved in a suspicious transaction of goods.
A vessel allegedly smuggling cigarettes and some other items from Dubai and carrying a banned satellite phone was intercepted off the city coast, and five Indians on board were taken into custody, Coast Guard and police officials said on Thursday.
Those detained were identified as Ahmed Aadam Paleja (45), Iqbal Hasan Umi (41), Yakub Abubakar Thakra (43), Abdul Razzak Usmar Mandwani (32) and Yunus Aasam Bolim (30) -- all hailing from Bhuj in Gujarat, police said.
The Coast Guard had on Wednesday intercepted calls allegedly made through the Thuraya satellite phone on board 'MSV Yusufi' which came from Dubai on Tuesday, they said.
Thuraya is a mobile satellite services phone company based in the UAE. Its sat phones were banned in India in 2010 over concerns that they could be misused by terrorists.
The officials intercepted the dhow five nautical miles off Mumbai coast late last night and when they searched it they found imported cigarettes kept in cartons, 26 live goats, mobile phone accessories and television sets on board.
The crew was reportedly in touch with a person, identified as Usman, in Dubai, for whom these goods were being brought to Mumbai by the vessel, the Coast Guard claimed.
However, the consignment was to be delivered in Sri Lanka, Yellow Gate police said after interrogation of the five on board.
"According to the crew, the engine of the dhow, registered at Kutch, Gujarat, failed following which it drifted towards Mumbai," said an officer.
After spotting Coast Guard ships moving towards them, the crew members panicked and threw the Thuraya phone in the waters, police said, adding the dhow has been seized and five were detained and subjected to questioning.
Narcotics Control Bureau officials have also joined the probe but it was not yet clear if the cigarettes contained any drugs.