No terror angle: Devendra Fadnavis says 'boat drifted due to high tide in Raigad'

The boat belongs to an Australian couple the minister said.

Somendra Sharma Amit SrivastavaUpdated: Friday, August 19, 2022, 12:15 AM IST
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Devendra Fadnavis | Photo: PTI

A high alert was sounded after a 16-metre accident-stricken yacht carrying a box with three AK-47 rifles, ammunition and some documents was found at Harihareshwar beach in Raigad on Thursday morning.

Intensified probe through the day revealed that the yacht, named Lady Han, was presumed to be sunk near Oman, on its way from Muscat to Europe on June 26, after it encountered bad weather at sea. The owner couple, Australians Hannah Londergan and James Hobert, was rescued by a Korean navy ship, which had responded to the SOS.

After it drifted ashore in Raigad on Thursday morning, the state police machinery began looking for a terror angle, especially as Maharashtra has witnessed sea-route entries of terrorists in 1993 and 2008. Road blocks were imposed at several points across Thane and Mumbai on Thursday, with the police checking for any clues of security threat.

The Indian Coast Guard (ICG), Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were pressed into action. Officials also set out to probe the antecedents of Neptune Maritime Security, whose sticker was found on the rifle box on the yacht.

In the state assembly, which is sitting for the monsoon session, Chief Minister Eknath Shinde announced a probe, even as Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that there is no terror angle.

After being contacted by the Indian authorities, the Neptune P2P Group issued a statement. As per the security group, in June 2022, it provided private security on Lady Han, which was later damaged in the Arabian Sea, causing the captain (James Hobert) to declare an emergency. While the crew were rescued, the yacht was unable to be salvaged due to extreme weather conditions.

As per the statement, the firm is now working with the owner of the vessel and the Indian and UK authorities to determine the official recovery procedures of the vessel and controlled items.

On their website, the Neptune P2P Group states that it provides superyacht security solutions, as large and luxurious vessels depict perceived wealth and opulence and it can often make them and their crews and passengers highly attractive to organised criminals and pirates. “Our experienced and qualified Maritime Security Teams are all former military and are supported by our 24/7 operations and support centre,” the company states on its website.

What is the matter?

Security was tightened in the Raigad region of Maharashtra after the recovery of a mysterious boat loaded with weapons near the Harihareshwar beach on Thursday.

According to local police officials, no person was present in the boat but some arms, including an AK-47, and ammunition were found. Following the development, a team of the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) was rushed to the spot, they said.

"The Coast guard and Maharashtra Maritime Board have been informed and investigations are underway," police officials added.

The presence of the mysterious boat raised alarm bells as Mumbai had been targeted by Pakistan-based terrorists on November 26, 2008 by terrorists who had entered the city by sea route.

Raigad MLA Aditi Tatkare said that as per the primary information, some boats containing weapons and documents were found in Harihareshwar and Bharadkhol of Shrivardhan in Raigad.

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