A joint team of a naval intelligence unit and the Gujarat police has begun interrogations of the nine persons apprehended from the Iranian Cargo Ship MV Nafis-1, which was captured off the Mumbai coast by the Indian Navy on Monday.
The vessel was reportedly hijacked and being used for smuggling contraband.
INS Mysore, a guided missile destroyer, towed the vessel to Porbandar, Gujarat – to the closest port – on Tuesday afternoon.
The nine who were apprehended and are being questioned include five Yemenis, two Tanzanians, one Kenyan and a Somalian. Interpreters have been roped in to interrogate the nine suspects, which started at around 4pm on Tuesday, sources said.
According to preliminary information, four of the nine persons could be pirates, who had held the crew of the ship captive, said police sources.
The crewmembers had told the marine commandos that the ship had been adrift for the last 20 days, after it encountered a snag in the machinery.
They said that a distress alert had been sent to one of the maritime rescue co-ordination centre (MRCC).
Sources in the Navy said that their claims were being verified.
“A deck-by-deck search of the vessel is being conducted and it would take at least two to three days to finish,” said Deepan Bhadran, superintendent of police, Porbandar.
He also said that it was too early to say anything about the background of the nine apprehended.
So far, no contraband has been found on the ship and only rice and other edible items have been identified. However, Bhadran said that it is only after the search is completed that the presence of contraband can be ascertained or denied.
On August 12m, The Indian Navy intercepted the merchant vessel, MV Nafis –1, an Iranian cargo ship about 250 nautical miles north-west of the Mumbai coast, based on an intelligence input that the ship was hijacked and was used for supplying contraband.
On Monday, Two teams of marine commandos on two Sea King helicopters, launched from INS Mysore, boarded MV Nafis-1 and apprehended the nine persons on board.
Two AK-47 rifles, one pistol and some hard cash, including US dollars, were found from them, said Navy sources.