The Tamil Nadu marine police on Monday arrested 35 people on a ship which was detained on Saturday on charges of illegally carrying weapons and ammunition.
The ship, belonging to a US firm providing maritime security, was detained by the Indian Coast Guard on Saturday after it entered Indian territorial waters off the Tuticorin coast.
The vessel, named ‘MV Seaman Guard’, was manned by 10 crew (two Ukrainians and eight Indians) along with 25 security guards from different countries.
Police sources said an FIR has been registered against the crew members and investigations were on to ascertain their involvement in arms trafficking. “In addition, they were also booked under the Essential Commodities Act on charges of procuring fuel illegally with the help of local shipping agents,” an investigation officer told Deccan Herald.
He said, “There were no proper documents with the crew in-charge and, therefore, we have intensified our investigations to ascertain the motive behind their coming to our territory and that too with arms and ammunition.”
“We cant take this casually since the ship, which claims to provide maritime security, can only operate in the Indian Ocean,” he added. Sources from the Coast Guard said that the ship was also sighted off Kochi on August 28.
The ship was intercepted about 15 nautical miles east of Tuticorin by a Coast Guard ship. The Coast Guard acted after it received information that the vessel carrying arms and guards was off the Tuticorin coast. The vessel was later escorted to Tuticorin harbour.
Meanwhile, the Centre on Monday sought details from the Tamil Nadu government on the American-owned ship which has been detained for entering Indian waters illegally with arms abaord and buying diesel without any permit.
Viewing the incident of the ship with arms entering Indian waters without any valid documents seriously, the Home Ministry has asked the state government to submit a report soon on the incident.