Drug bust points to an­other mys­tery ship

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - VIKRAM SHARMA @ New Delhi

BACK in July 2015, the In­dian Coast Guard was tipped off by the Ker­ala po­lice about a ves­sel in the Ara­bian Sea car­ry­ing con­tra­band, pos­si­bly drugs, pos­si­bly arms. The Coast Guard in­ter­cepted Ba­rooki, an Ira­nian fish­ing ves­sel, 100 km west of Alleppey. Its crew of 10 Ira­ni­ans and a Pak­istani said they drifted off course on high seas. The Ker­ala po­lice searched the ves­sel high and low, and found a Thu­raya com­mu­ni­ca­tion set and a Pak­istani ID car, but no con­tra­band. Af­ter months of in­ves­ti­ga­tion, the crew were freed by a lo­cal court in March 2016 and the ves­sel was put up for auc­tion, with its 16,000 litres of diesel. It was bought for scrap by a firm from Gu­jarat and its rust­ing hulk now lies an­chored in Thiru­vanan­tha­pu­ram.

Did the Ker­ala po­lice miss some­thing? That ques­tion is irk­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tors again af­ter the Coast Guard on July 30 this year in­ter­cepted an­other ship - Panama-reg­is­tered M V Hen­nry - off Por­ban­dar and found 1,446 kg of heroin with a street value `3,500 crore con­cealed in a mind-bog­gling ar­ray of se­cret com­part­ments: wa­ter tanks, pipes and the diesel tank. It was the big­gest-ever drug seizure in In­dia. A crew mem­ber had told in­ves­ti­ga­tors Pak­istani load­ers worked for four days to stuff 1,526 pack­ets of heroin in spe­cial cav­i­ties across the boat. He also re­vealed that such cav­i­ties are par for the course for smug­gling dhows in the Ara­bian Sea, and one such ship, Ba­rooki, was in­deed in­ter­cepted by the In­dian au­thor­i­ties.

THE gov­ern­ment has taken steps to en­sure there is no short­age of rice dur­ing Onam.

The state will get 5,000 tonnes of Jaya rice from Andhra Pradesh. A dis­cus­sion in this re­gard was held be­tween the of­fi­cials of Ker­ala Sup­plyco and AP mill own­ers.

The rice is be­ing sup­plied with the sup­port of AP Civil Sup­plies Cor­po­ra­tion. It is ex- pected to reach here by around Au­gust 27.

A dis­cus­sion be­tween Civil Sup­plies Min­is­ter P Thilothaman and the min­is­ters of Andhra Pradesh was held af­ter talks be­tween Chief Min­is­ter Pi­narayi Vi­jayan and Andhra Pradesh Deputy Chief Min­is­ter K E Kr­ish­na­murthy.

The Ker­ala gov­ern­ment had is­sued an or­der per­mit­ting Sup­plyco to buy rice from Andhra Pradesh.

Sup­plyco chair­man and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor A P M Muhammed Ha­neesh rep­re­sented Ker­ala Sup­plyco.

Apart from the de­mand that is ex­pected dur­ing the fes­ti­val of Onam, the state had re­cently shown in­ter­est in buy­ing the va­ri­ety of rice, tra­di­tion­ally a favourite among the malay­alis, from the Go­davari dis­tricts. Ker­ala had pro­posed an agree­ment for a monthly, con­tin­u­ous sup­ply of Jaya rice.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.