Naval base inauguration, Gujarat meet targets of Pak boat crew?

  • Shishir Gupta, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 04, 2015 01:14 IST

The inauguration of a naval base by the Prime Minister or an annual investment summit in Gujarat was the possible target of the four men on board the Pakistani boat that blew up close to India’s west coast, defence minister Mahohan Parrikar has been told.

The opening of the naval facility at Porbandar, Gujarat, had been put off indefinitely, sources said. Parrikar was Saturday briefed by the top Indian Coast Guard commanders, two days after the maritime force intercepted an explosive-laden trawler, whose crew set it on fire 15 minutes into the new year, sources said. The boat was 371km off Porbandar.

Though the security establishment is tight-lipped, counter-terror officials told HT the interception of the boat was the outcome of a 15-day-long tracking and surveillance operation, monitored at the highest level of the national security establishment led by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.

“We not only know who is involved from Pakistani side but also have the video footage of the boat — from interception to the sinking,” an official told HT on condition of anonymity.

“It was a successful counter-terror operation with visual footage available at each stage.” the officer said.

With the men carrying satellite phones, the National Technical Research Organisation, which had alerted the coast guard about the boat on December 31, had picked some chatter and was keeping a close watch days before the men set sail from Keti Bunder along the Karachi coast, sources said. The 26/11 terrorists, too, had started on their terror journey from the Pakistani port city.

Spectroscopic analysis, said sources, confirmed the presence of explosives on board the rogue vessel.

“That the Pakistani men on board blew themselves up with the boat shows that they were on a suicide mission. If they were ordinary smugglers, why did they run towards Pakistani waters when challenged,” a top defence ministry official said. “The coast guard did not target the boat but the satellite phone-carrying terrorists… blew themselves up.”

The security establishment, however, is not sharing details, saying it doesn’t want to compromise its intelligence channel, sources and capabilities across the border.

Parrikar was told about the sinking of the boat, which came after a tense 16-hour drama in the Arabian Sea, around 9am on January 1 as he was boarding a flight to Bengaluru, sources said.

Video: Pak boat blows itself up after being intercepted by coast guard

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