A fishing boat from Pakistan with four people on board went up in flames off the Gujarat coast in what appeared to be an attempt to evade investigation by the Indian Navy on New Year’s Eve, the government disclosed today.
So far, no survivors have been found from the vessel which set sail from near Karachi in Pakistan for what the government described as “an illicit transaction” in the Arabian Sea. Sources said the boat had ammunition that was meant to be passed onto another boat about 350 kms southwest of Porbandar in Gujarat.
On the morning of December 31, Indian security agencies picked up phone intercepts from Keti Bunder near Karachi about “expensive cargo” that was to be delivered near India. The Indian Navy was then alerted; Coast Guard ships and aircraft were used to locate and intercept the boat near the maritime border with Pakistan.
“However, the boat increased speed and tried to escape away from the Indian side of maritime boundary. The hot pursuit continued for nearly one hour,” a Defence Ministry statement added. Though the statement from the government headlines explosives on the boat, it offers no further details.
Although the boat did eventually stop after warning shots were fired by the Coast Guard in an hour-long chase, the four-man crew then hid themselves below deck before setting the boat on fire which triggered a large explosion.
“The boat was cornered by our team, but it continued sending signals of non-compliance. We followed all protocol to send warnings to the boat,” said KR Nautiyal, the Deputy Director General of Operations of the Indian Coast Guard.