A recent report by The Business Standard states that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had authorised the Coast Guard to launch a secret operation, which involved intercepting a yacht carrying a 33-year-old runaway Dubai princess on 4 March.
Sheikha Latifa, the daughter of Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Saeed Al Maktoum, had reportedly gone missing off the coast of Goa, earlier this year. In a video, which surfaced on the internet, the princess had said she ran away from home after being physically tortured for seeking personal freedoms for both herself and her sibling.
The report mentions that it had received its information from “highly placed government sources”, who said national security officials had advised the Coast Guard that the operation was necessary to “secure India’s counter-terrorism and strategic interests”.
The operation reportedly involved three Coast Guard ships, that included the state-of-the-art offshore patrol vessels Samarth and Shoor, helicopters and a maritime surveillance aircraft.
The princess, along with two companions Tiina Johanna Jauhiainen from Finland and Hervé Jauber were said to be aboard a US registered vessel known as "Nostromo".
According to the report, the eyewitnesses who were on board at the time, said the princess and her companions was forcibly handed over to UAE military personnel by the Coast Guard, when they had intercepted the yacht.
15 men came onboard fully masked, in black clothing, with machine guns and laser sights. It was the most terrifying experience of my life.Tiina Johanna Jauhiainen to The Helsinki Times
Radha Stirling, Director of ‘Detained in Dubai’, who was reportedly corresponding with Latifa, wrote an e-mail to the Indian Coast Guard saying that the “armed attack” on the US vessel had taken place on 4 March, within Indian Territorial Waters.
Jauhiainen and Jauber were later released, following pressure from western diplomatic missions on the UAE, Business Standard reports.
Another report by Lawyers Collective stated that Latifa kept screaming that she was seeking political asylum in the country and had even said: “I won’t go back to the UAE, just kill me now".
The Lawyers Collective Report said under the Territorial Waters, Continental Shelf, Exclusive Economic Zone and other Maritime Zones Act of 1976, “foreign vessels are guaranteed the right of peaceful passage within India's territorial waters.”
In terms of turning back a person who was seeking asylum in the country, Article 21 of the Constitution of India focuses on the right against torture. According to the report:
“There can be a case that if India knowingly sent a person back to a place where they would be tortured, India would have breached that person’s rights under Article 21.”
However, two officials familiar with the Coast Guard operation told The Business Standard that after they had received messages from the Dubai Prime Minister Al Maktoum, seeking their assistance in intercepting the yacht, which he said had kidnapped his daughter, they had to act on it.
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