After a suspicious boat with weapons was found in the sea off the Indian coast in Maharashtra on Thursday, 18 August, Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said that there is no confirmation of a terror angle.
"There is no confirmation of any terror angle, the boat has just drifted here. We are not ruling out anything and are investigating all aspects," Fadnavis told news agency ANI, adding that the police have been asked to stay on high alert.
Fadnavis claimed that the boat, whose engine broke down at sea, belongs to an Australian woman whose husband was its captain. He said that the passengers on the boat were rescued by a Korean vessel.
The deputy CM added that three AK-47 rifles were found on the boat, which came towards the Konkan coast in a half-broken condition due to a high tide, ANI reported.
He further said, "Keeping in mind the coming festive season, police and administration have been instructed to be prepared."
The yacht, which is four metres wide and 16-feet long, was on its way to Europe from Muscat in June when it drifted due to inclement weather, he said. The Australian couple abandoned it after engine trouble, he added.
The deputy CM also said, "ATS is also working on it. Additional force will also be deployed if necessary."
A coast guard helicopter also reached the spot and extracted two bags marked ‘Neptune Maritime Security’ from the boat. Both the bags were taken over by the Raigad Police for investigation.
Later in the day, Raigad Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) Additional Director General, Vineet Agarwal, said that if there is a suspicious boat, the ATS itself will register a case and investigate.
Speaking on the developments so far, he said, “Why were there three weapons if there was only one guard? We will check this out.”
He further confirmed that three AK-47 rifles and 600 rounds were found in the boat, along with some important documents.
‘Was Sailing From Oman to Europe’: Coast Guard Official
"It is a UK registered yacht which was sailing from Oman to Europe. It had given a distress call and the people onboard were rescued by ships in the vicinity of Muscat on 26 June," a coast guard official was quoted as saying by PTI.
The yacht also carried some small arms of the AK series, he said.
The arms vendor has been contacted and the serial numbers of the weapons found onboard match with the ones missing from the vendor's inventory, the official said.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened in the Raigad district and nearby areas after the boat was found near Harihareshwar beach. A police investigation is underway.
The place where the boat was found is reportedly about 200 kilometres from Mumbai and 170 km from Pune.
Police had earlier said that nobody was present on the vessel, and that the Coast Guard and the Maharashtra Maritime Board were subsequently informed of the developments.
Addressing the media, Aditi Tatkare, NCP MLA from Shrivardhan in Raigad, said, "As per primary information, some boats containing weapons and documents found in Harihareshwar and Bharadkhol of Shrivardhan in Raigad. Local police is probing, I've demanded CM and Deputy CM to urgently appoint special team of ATS or state agency."
(With inputs from ANI.)