India intercepted a boat with eight suspected Pakistani smugglers and over 200 packets of heroin worth Rs 600 crore off the Gujarat coast in a coordinated operation by the Coast Guard and the navy, the defence ministry said on Tuesday.
Agencies also recovered a pair of satellite phones and a GPS set from the boat, indicating the boat was on mission to deliver a high value consignment of drugs mid-sea but officials refused to say if the contraband was meant for delivery in India or if any terror angle was suspected.
"In a closely coordinated operation undertaken by the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, a boat carrying a large quantity of narcotics was apprehended in international waters, off the coast of Gujarat yesterday. The operation also resulted in the arrest of eight Pakistani nationals manning the boat," a defence ministry statement read.
The navy and Coast Guard were alerted by intelligence agencies about movement of a boat on April 18th and intensified their patrolling off the Gujarat coast, which is a fishing zone. “During the constant patrolling in the sea and air surveillance, a suspicious boat was located late on April 20th,” a Coast Guard official said.
Three navy warships, several surveillance aircrafts and a Coast Guard ship 'Sangram' that intercepted the boat were part of the operation, the ministry statement added.
“We will get details only after detailed interrogation of the persons manning the boat,” a senior official said.
This comes barely four months after the Coast Guard intercepted a Pakistani fishing boat said to be carrying explosives meant for a 26/11-style attack on India. The vessel exploded off the Porbander coast and sank with four crew members on board on December 31, 2014.
The ministry said the boat was set on fire by its Pakistani crew but a senior official contradicted this in February, saying he ordered the destruction of the vessel. The official was removed from his position after an inquiry.