Tuticorin: Indian investigators are trying to determine whether an American ship, detained for illegally entering Indian waters and carrying guns and ammunition without permission, was involved in arms trafficking.
Here are 10 big developments in this story:
- 31 assault rifles and around 5,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the ship that was detained at the Tuticorin coast in Tamil Nadu early on Saturday morning, 600 kms south of Chennai.
- Indian security agencies are investigating whether the ship was involved in arms trafficking. The ship's presence in Indian waters is being seen as a serious breach of security. The MV Seaman Guard Ohio was not authorized to enter Indian waters.
- The ship is owned by an American company named AdvanFort, which specialises in maritime security against pirates. Representatives of the firm in India have met with Coast Guard officials to discuss the case.
- Sources handling the case said that a police case has been filed against the 35 people on board for illegally transporting arms and ammunition.
- The ship had reportedly been in Indian waters for three days before it was detected. Local fishermen tipped off the Coast Guard that they were being approached by the Seaman Ohio's crew to sell food and other supplies to them.
- The Centre has asked the Tamil Nadu government for a detailed report on what the interrogation of the crew members reveals.
- "You have had piracy earlier in the Strait of Malacca and now in the Gulf. People who provide such security need a floating armoury. My suspicion is that the boat in Tuticorin is a floating armoury for one of these private security agencies," said Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Sandhu.
- According to the Coast Guard, the ship was manned by a 10-member crew and had 25 security guards. 12 of the people on board are Indians; four of them are allegedly former officers from the Indian army and navy, says PTI.
- The ship was also carrying 1,500 litres of diesel which had allegedly been bought illegally. Investigators are trying to determine which Indian agents supplied the fuel.
- Sources said this is the second time in the last two months that the ship has been detained by the Coast Guard. But the last time around, those who searched the ship said nothing suspicious was found on board.