The eight-member crew of Panama-registered vessel seized last week off the Gujarat coast along with heroin worth over Rs 3,500 crore has told investigators that the ship’s Iranian owner had not paid their salaries for two months and locked them up for five days. The crew had repaired the ship, which was in a bad condition, for two months without being paid for it. Sources said that the ship owner, Saiyed Ali Morani, had employed 13 crew members, including four Iranian nationals and one Indian cook. Sources said that the eight on board when it was seized have claimed that its captain, Suprit Tiwari, was asked to stay in the sea when the vessel reached Chabahar in Iran.
“The crew members, during questioning, claimed that their ship was left adrift and they were locked up on the ship. Their mobile phones were also snatched. They were not allowed to come on the deck. Here, a speed boat came with a Pakistani national identified as Khalid Mohammed. Khalid and Iranian crew members loaded the drugs… it took five days to conceal the contraband. This work was done mostly in the nights. Subsequently, the ship owner, Morani, instructed Tiwari to head to Egypt.”
Sources said that Tiwari has confessed that Morani wanted to take the ship to Egypt but brought it to India due to the non-payment of salaries and lucrative offer to sell it here. They made up a story that Morani wanted to take the ship to Alang for breaking after they were caught.
Sources said that Tiwari was in touch with Bareilly sailor Devendra. Tiwari informed Devendra about the drugs and asked for ways to sell them in India. Officials said that Devendra, who is said to be in the Middle East, asked Mumbai-based sailor Vishal Yadav and Irfan Shaikh how to sell the drugs. The two promised that they can fetch at least Rs 500 crore. Yadav and Shaikh were arrested on Monday.
The five, who left the ship at Chabahar, have been identified as Ishtikar Alam, the cook, and Iranian nationals Ibrahim, Rasool, Muhammad and Mustafa.