Conflicting reports are emerging on the intelligence regarding the sighting of the alleged Pakistani boat on the high seas off the Porbandar coast, which blew itself up suspiciously when intercepted by an Indian Coast Guard ship.
Indian Coast Guard commander (North West), Kuldip Singh Sheoran told The Sunday Express on Saturday that the intelligence was shared with Gujarat Police on December 31 itself.
But the Superintendent of Police, Porbandar, Deepan Bhadran declined to confirm he had received it.
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“The intelligence network that informed us had also informed the Indian Navy and the Gujarat Police. Sensitive information of this kind will not be kept in isolation. The Navy was privy to it, and has been helping us in the operations. We were discreet about the operations as per orders from the Ministry of Defence,” Sheoran said.
Sheoran claimed that the ICG ship had seen only one of the four suspects on board. He also said that the Coast Guard fired four warning shots on the boat, which did not return fire.
SP Bhadran told The Sunday Express, “Whether we received the information or did not, either way it is a confidential matter that we cannot share. It’s an operation that happened 365 km out at sea and only the agency that did it can share information about the arrival of (intelligence) inputs.”
Sheoran said, “The input came at 8.31am in the morning (of December 31) that a group of persons have left from Keti port in Pakistan towards Gujarat. The intelligence input stated the persons are terror suspects and are laden with explosives.”
He said, “When warning shots were fired, the suspect was still on the deck. Unlike pirates, who usually fire back, they did not retaliate, but tried to mislead officers. The suspect appeared to be gauging the (Coast Guard) ship’s movements, and told the others to speed up.”
Sheoran said intel input said the suspect boat was 25 feet long and had a 80 HP engine. Input included colour of the boat, and descriptions of persons on board.
The ICG sent its ship Rajratan and a Dornier aircraft from Porbandar to track the leads. The Dornier spotted the boat at 1.55 am, and Rajratan increased its speed and went after the boat.
Sheoran said, “One of the suspects on board was found to have the same appearance as had been described in the intel input, wearing a T-shirt, jacket and shorts. His behaviour was suspicious — he was seen walking along the edge of the boat, looking around. He was not fishing, and there was no fishing net or boxes on board. The men on board were not fishermen, they were terror suspects. However, a proper investigation is going on.”
About the explosion on board, Sheoran said, “After we had covered them from the air and the sea, the suspects blew up the boat… suddenly a ball of fire rose into the air, and the boat was aflame.”