Ship part

Captain of Coast Guard vessel that intercepted Pakistani boat with heroin in 2015 testifies in court

Captain of Coast Guard vessel that intercepted Pakistani boat with heroin in 2015 testifies | PTI/Representative

The captain of an Indian Coast Guard vessel that intercepted a Pakistani boat, ‘Al-Yasir’, found with 232kg of heroin on the high seas in 2015, recently testified before a special court and identified the eight Pakistani nationals that the Coast Guard had apprehended.

He also identified the 11 drums that contained 232 contraband packets. The drums, being bulky, had been brought to the courthouse at a run. The witnesses could not be transported to the courtroom and the witness identified them as the same ones he had sealed in 2015.

The 56-year-old witness, currently Chief of Staff of Coast Guard Aviation, West Sea Council, was questioned by prosecutor Sumesh Panjwani. The officer told the court in his deposition that the coast guard vessel Sangram was based in 2015 in Mumbai. The ship sailed on April 16, 2015, from the city to the international maritime border to patrol and on April 18 began receiving reports of suspicious infiltration or smuggling activities from neighboring states. He said that on the night of April 28 at 3 a.m. they detected a small boat on radar and, finding it suspicious, they followed it in the dark. He said the direction of the boat was towards India and they decided to board at the first light of day, an instruction given by him.

The officer said that at dawn he asked an assistant commander to board the ship with the boarding party. During boarding and search, he said they found suspicious packages in 11 drums. There was no flag or registration number on the boat, he recalls. The boat was later found to be registered as “Al Yasir” in Pakistan. While the crew members, all Pakistani, claimed they were fishermen, he said they had been suspicious as there was no catch of fish.

The officer also identified the eight Pakistani defendants as the same people he apprehended. He also identified sophisticated communications equipment found on the boat.