Five held at mid-sea for smuggling contraband

Last Updated: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 18:38

Mumbai: Five crew members of a vessel, allegedly used to smuggle cigarettes, goats and other items from Dubai including a banned satellite phone, have been arrested, the police said here Friday.

The crew comprising Ahmed Aadam Paleja (45), Iqbal Hasan Umi (41), Yakub Abubakar Thakra (43), Abdul Razzak Usmar Mandwani (32) and Yunus Aasam Bolim (30), all hailing from Bhuj in Gujarat, were placed under arrest, the police said.

The accused have been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code, Cigarette and Other Tobacco Products (Prohibition) Act, 2003, Cruelty to Animals Act, Indian Wireless Telegraphy Act, Mumbai Police Act and the Indian Telegraph Act, the police said.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard intercepted calls allegedly made through a Thuraya satellite phone onboard `MSV Yusufi` which came from Dubai on Tuesday, the police said.

Thuraya is a mobile satellite phone company based in the United Arab Emirates, whose phones were banned in India in 2010 over concerns that they could be misused by terrorists.
The vessel was intercepted five nautical miles off Mumbai coast late on Wednesday night by the Indian Coast Guard and a searched yielded 400 imported cigarettes` crates, 33 live goats, mobile phone accessories and television sets.

Those onboard were handed over to the Yellow Gate police station yesterday morning.

The crew was reportedly in touch with a person identified as `Usman`, in Dubai, for whom these goods were allegedly being brought to Mumbai by the vessel, the Coast Guard claimed.

However, after interrogating the five crew members, the police said that the consignment was to be delivered in Sri Lanka.
"According to the crew, the engine of the vessel, registered at Kutch, Gujarat, failed after which it drifted towards Mumbai," an officer said.

After spotting Indian Coast Guard ships moving towards them, crew members panicked and threw the Thuraya satellite phone into the sea, the police said.

PTI



First Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 - 18:38

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