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Al-Yaseer catch: 8 arrested Pakistan sailors say they were framed

Their application seeking discharge blames Coast Guard, contests police claim that their boat was ‘unseaworthy’.

Written by Srinath Rao | Mumbai | Updated: February 26, 2016 3:46:02 pm

The eight Pakistani sailors, who were caught transporting 232 kilogram heroin off the Gujarat coast last year, have accused the Indian Coast Guard of planting the drugs on their boat.

In an application seeking discharge from the case, they have also latched on to the fact that the Mumbai Police found their boat to be ‘unseaworthy’, and argued that they could not have made a journey towards India had it been the case.

The Karachi-registered boat, Al-Yaseer, was intercepted by Coast Guard patrol ship Sangram off the coast of Porbandar on April 20, 2015. During a search inside, the coast guard found eight sailors and 11 blue plastic drums containing a white crystalline substance which forensic tests later revealed to be heroin.

The application, filed by advocate Swapnil Patil before a special court on Thursday, claimed the Coast Guard may have tampered with the contents of the drums when they shifted the drums from Al-Yaseer on to their boat while taking it to Porbandar, where forensic experts tested them. The application has questioned the need for loading the drums into the Coast Guard ship.

“It clearly indicates plantation and prima facie goes on to show that the contraband was already on naval boat Sangram,” the application states, adding statements of forensic experts and police officers in Porbandar had not been recorded for this reason.

“It is just like investigation officer himself is removing dagger from chest of the dead body by his own bare hand,” it states.

The testing of the substance in Mumbai on April 26, 2015, after the case was transferred to Mumbai Police also indicated that the heroin was already on-board the coast guard ship, it added.

It has also cited a letter sent by the senior inspector of Yellow Gate Police Station to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Port Zone, on November 28, 2015, in which Al-Yaseer is said to be in “unseaworthy condition” and was handed over to the Customs department in Porbandar.

According to the application, “an unseaworthy boat can never be used for carrying such a huge consignment.”

A chargesheet filed by police last year had claimed that the eight men had been promised

Rs 50,000 each by the owner of Al-Yaseer if they hand over the drums to a boat coming from Dubai near the Gujarat coast. If successful, the sailors had been instructed to cast fishing nest in the water and return to Karachi with a catch of fish.

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