Taking into account the threat posed to coastal security by smuggling rackets that operate at sea, the Mumbai police crime branch has initiated a crackdown on such rackets.
The drive began early on Friday morning, with the Crime Branch arresting seven persons, who were allegedly transferring an ‘oil-like’ substance, believed to be diesel, from a barge to a tug in the Arabian Sea near the Bhaucha Dhakka in Mumbai.
“We have examples like Shekhadi (where explosives landed in 1993), and other instances, which led to serious incidents. If there is diesel being smuggled today, there might be something far more serious smuggled in tomorrow. It poses a threat to coastal security and need to be checked,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Atulchandra Kulkarni.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection) Dhananjay Kulkarni added, “The idea is to eliminate such gangs before they turn from smuggling diesel or other contraband to something like explosives or terrorists. We have been instructed by senior police brass to crack down on such rackets.”
Late on Thursday night, the anti-motor vehicle theft cell of the Crime Branch got a tip-off that diesel was going to be smuggled into the city by sea and a team left from Bhaucha Dhakka around midnight on Thursday. “The team intercepted a barge and two tugs around an hour’s journey away from the Bhaucha Dhakka. An oil like substance was being transferred from the barge to the tugs. One of the tugs managed to flee the scene, while the other tug as well as the barge, was seized along with nearly 12,000 litres of the oil like substance and two high powered pumps. A total of seven accused have been arrested in the operation, and we have four fishermen who witnessed the transfer being made,” said Joint CP Kulkarni.
Officers said the substance is believed to be diesel, but has been sent for chemical analysis for confirmation. The Crime Branch is now interrogating the arrested accused about the source of the substance as well as the intended destination, and the owners of the two vessels are being traced so that their past records can be looked into, said sources.