Dhow mystery: Police want 5 goats operated upon

FIVE of the 32 goats that were seized from the dhow MSV Yusufi will be operated upon to check for contraband,as police are not satisfied with the X-ray reports.

Written by Srinath Rao | Published: April 23, 2013 3:45 am

FIVE of the 32 goats that were seized from the dhow MSV Yusufi will be operated upon to check for contraband,as police are not satisfied with the X-ray reports. The dhow was intercepted by the Coast Guard off the coast of Mumbai on April 3 and the goats underwent X-ray last week.

“The X-rays show some kind of shadows. These goats will be operated upon on Tuesday to find out what these are,” said Tanaji Ghadge,DCP (Port Zone). “It’s more as a precaution,” he added.

The police have sought metropolitan magistrate’s permissions for the operation. They have insisted that the dean of the veterinary college should operate on the animals.

The goats have been kept in quarantine at Mumbai Port Trust,Ghadge said,as they are suspected to be infected. The goats are currently under the custody of Central Industrial Security Force,he said. “Five other goats have died as they could not adjust to the weather,” Ghadge said.

The dhow was intercepted after the Coast Guard picked up conversation on a banned Thuraya satellite phone,which the crew allegedly dumped in the sea. A cargo of 32 goats,450 crates of cigarettes,mobile phone parts,two television sets and a tablet were found aboard. The dhow’s four-member crew is in police custody.

Usman Ghanchi,the alleged handler of the dhow,who was arrested Friday,has told police that he had bought an Urdu-medium school in Dongri which he planned to make a goat shelter.

Ghanchi,a resident of Mohammad Ali Road,is a trader of goats and known locally as Usman Bakra,police said. “He has told us that he does not have a criminal record,but we have asked local police stations to verify this,” an officer said.

Police have not dismissed terror angle to the case. “We have left the smuggling aspect to the Customs. We are probing this as a terror case. The idea that he could have used the route or the people purely for goats is not something we can digest. There is more to this,” said an officer at Yellow Gate police station.

Though Ghanchi has so far denied any knowledge of the dhow,police claim to have sufficient evidence to prove that he was in Dubai on the day the dhow set sail from there. Ghanchi had two phones on him,one with a Dubai number while the other was his Mumbai phone number.

“The crew used the Thuraya satellite phone but Ghanchi was using his cell phone. After the dhow was intercepted,he switched off his Mumbai cell phone,” he said. Police are scrutinising call records to ascertain which phones were used to make calls. “He claims that Thuraya was used by the skipper as it becomes too difficult to communicate in rough sea with cell phones,” said an officer.

Ghadge said Ghanchi had mentioned the name of the skipper on the dhow’s manifest,manipulating it in a way as to make him the fall guy.

“The dhow’s manifest states the destination as Sri Lanka and the skipper responsible for the cargo. Ghanchi made sure that his name did not surface anywhere. He claims he had a profit-sharing agreement with the skipper. They planned to split the profits from selling the goats,which are worth Rs 40,000 each,in India. Ghanchi planned to sell the cigarettes and the mobile phone parts himself. Each crate is easily worth between Rs 40,000 and Rs 60,000,” he said. The police found this claim dubious as the Coast Guard found them near Indian waters and heading towards Colaba.

“The skipper’s statement is being recorded before a magistrate under CrPC Section 164. This is crucial as it helps us to establish that the goods were sent by Usman in Dubai,and it was to be delivered to him in Mumbai,” said Krishna Prakash,Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region).

With inputs from Megha Sood

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