No move to hand over probe to NIA

Last Updated 14 October 2013, 20:23 IST

With the Coast Guard detaining an American ship for suspicious movement in Indian waters, Deputy National Security Advisor Nehchal Sandhu on Monday said the law will take its own course but remained non-committal on handing over the case to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

“Law will take its own course,” Sandhu told reporters here when asked to comment on the detention of the ship off Tamil Nadu coast and registering a case by the Tamil Nadu  Marine Police.

The vessel, M V Seaman Guard Ohio, whose crew included eight Indians, was intercepted and detained by the Coast Guard about 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin on Saturday.

An FIR has been registered against 10 crew members and 25 guards of the detained ship by the Tamil Nadu Marine Police for illegally carrying arms and ammunition.

Besides, a case under the Essential Commodities Act has been registered for buying 1,500 litres of diesel illegally with the help of a local shipping agent.

Asked whether the incident was similar to a 2012 incident off Kerala coast when guards from an Italian ship fired upon Indian fishermen killing two, Sandhu said that was a separate incident and the two cannot be compared.

“Well, in Italian marine case, there was an offence. But here the weapons were discovered on board the ship,” he said on the sidelines of a function.

Sandhu, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau, said piracy has increased in international waters and civil maritime operations have employed private maritime security companies against pirates.

“You have had piracy earlier in the Straits of Malacca and now in the Gulf. People who provide such security need a mother ship. My suspicion is that the boat in Tuticorin is a mother ship for one of these private security agencies,” he said.

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 Indian waters and its mandate was largely confined to regions in the Indian Ocean like the Gulf of Aden, a hotbed of piracy.

The ship has 10 crew members, comprising two Ukranians and eight Indians.

(Published 14 October 2013, 20:23 IST)

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