A 16-metre yacht, which had made a distress call in June, was found adrift with assault rifles and other weapons Thursday morning near Harihareshwar in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, prompting authorities to tighten security in the area, said officials.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is also in charge of the state home ministry, informed the Assembly that the police were called and the yacht was searched after it was found by fishermen near Harihareshwar port.
“Three AK-47 rifles, papers, and cartridges were found. A roadblock was put in place and a high alert call was given. The Coast Guard was also informed,” said Fadnavis.
The deputy CM said the vessel is called Lady Han and is owned by an Australian woman Hana Laundergun. “Her husband, James Hobert, is the captain and they were going to Muscat from Europe. The boat’s engine was damaged and the sailors gave a call for help. A South Korean warship rescued them but a small boat could not be rescued due to rough weather,” said Fadnavis.
“The ATS is also probing. It has been put on high alert,” he added.
Earlier, Maharashtra Director General of Police Rajnish Seth said Raigad Superintendent of Police Ashok Dudhe was investigating the case.
Coast Guard Commander General Paramesh Sivamani said, “This yacht had made a distress call on June 26 and four occupants were rescued from the Gulf of Oman. It was travelling to the UK and had a UK flag. This has drifted to Harihareshwar and there were three AK series assault rifles found and some small arms too.”
“We have spoken to the master of the yacht. One security agency from Dubai has also called us to confirm that the same series of arms from their register is missing. These arms may have been used for protection of the crew.”