The team aims to find out if there is any possibility of terrorist links

09-06 crew abandons ship.jpgA joint investigation team of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and state marine police is interrogating the 16 crewmembers of a Bangladeshi vessel that had sneaked into Balasore coast. The team aims to find out if there is any possibility of terrorist links.

Two days after the Bangladeshi vessel's 16 crewmembers were taken into custody, the joint investigation has begun laying emphasis on "subversive and terror" angles. "The possibility of their links with terrorist organizations cannot be ruled out at the moment," said an official source. "The investigation has so far remained inconclusive. The arrested Bangladeshis are being subjected to intense questioning and interrogation as some clues have come out which indicate that they had trespassed into country's coastal zone with malicious intent.

As the versions being given by the Bangladeshi crews vary from that of one another, investigators doubt the motive of their infiltration," said Shantanu Kumar Das, nodal officer, coastal security wing of the state police. No arms and ammunition were recovered from the seized foreign vessel. But there is a distinct possibility that they might have dumped the cache into the sea before the Coast Guard overpowered them.

The vessel did not have valid documents, including permit for sea voyage. Besides, the arrested crewmembers were not armed with passport as proof of their domicile status, said a source. The vessel, which was impounded, was not a fishing trawl. Nor were the arrested crewmembers on a fishing voyage in the Bay of Bengal. The arrested crewmembers were from Barishal and Patuakhali of Bangladesh. They undertook the sea voyage on October 18 before infiltrating into India's coast on October 22.

Although most of the crewmembers have claimed that they were fishermen, the authorities have not found fishing nets and other fishing equipment from their vessel. The seized Bangladeshi vessel was 14-metre-long, larger than the ones used for fishing. Besides, the capacity of fishing trawls is usually six to seven persons. But the seized vessel carried as many as 16 persons, which deepens the possibility of their malicious intent, said a source.

It is suspected that that the arrested persons might be a part of an organized sea-route smuggling racket. It has been found that all the crewmembers, excepting the sailor and the operator, were hired for a purpose other than fishing.

Source: The Telegraph