Even though the Panama-flagged merchant tanker MT Pavit, which ran aground off the Versova coast, has been sent back into the sea, the concerns raised by its appearance refuse to die down.
Reports have now emerged that the owners of the MT Pavit had purchased the ship, despite having earlier claimed insurance for it after it reportedly sunk off the Oman Coast in June. The ship later ran aground off the Versova coast, a month later, on July 31. The state home department has ordered an inquiry into the reports.
Home department sources said that on August 16, the Coast Guard had dispatched a confidential letter to the home department, stating that the owner of MT Pavit had received 1.4million US dollars as insurance claim, after the ship reportedly sank near Falmouth, off the Oman coast, on June 29. However, subsequent unconfirmed reports suggested that the owner had later purchased the ship for USD 1,50,000, after the ship was discovered on the Indian coast. The coast guard urged the home department to look into the suspected foul play by ship owner Captain Jagvinder Singh Gurudev Singh Brar, subsequent to which the inquiry has been ordered.
“I have asked the Mumbai police to look into the allegations,” Additional chief secretary (home) Umesh Chandra Sarangi told the Hindustan Times. Sources in the Mumbai police told HT that the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has been directed to conduct the inquiry by the Mumbai police commissioner.
A senior Coast Guard official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the letter had been dispatched to the home department, and copy had been sent to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Port Zone and Director General Shipping. “We received the information from a reliable source and wanted to verify it,” the official said adding, “the coast guard is not averse to conduct a joint interrogation of Brar along with the police.”
Brar, who hails from Chandigarh, was arrested by the Yellow Gate police on August 3, on charges of negligence. However, the police released him on August 4, on a request reportedly by the office of the DG Shipping, who wanted Brar’s presence to help guide the salvage operations.
While granting him bail on a cash bond of Rs3,000, the Yellow Gate police had imposed several conditions, including that he should not leave the country without prior permission of the investigating officer of the case, and that he should be available for inquiry whenever wanted, by any government agency.