Indian Coast Guard (ICG), in swift joint operation with the Customs department, apprehended a fishing boat ‘Sagar’ which was carrying a huge quantity of textile consignment worth approximately Rs 5 crore, intended to be smuggled out of India to a neighbouring country through the sea route. This concurrent operation is amidst ongoing fire fighting operation onboard MT New Diamond at Srilanka, wherein the ICG as the National Coordinating Authority for Search & Rescue and Marine Pollution response, is playing a lead role to prevent a major ecological disaster.
The Joint anti-smuggling operation was launched and supervised by Coast Guard District Headquarters at Haldia (West Bengal) in coordination with Customs officials. ICG deployed two Coast Guard Hovercraft and one high speed Interceptor Boat on 6 September 2020, to monitor and intercept the suspect fishing boat. The ICG assets closely monitored the movement of all boats transiting the Hoogly Channel throughout the night. The suspect boat ‘Sagar’ was detected in Hoogly channel off Geonkhali close to dawn and was shadowed by the hovercraft. The fishing boat crew on sighting the hovercraft undertook various evasive measures and headed towards shallow waters to escape apprehension. The crew abandoned the boat near diamond harbour and took cover in the thick vegetation leaving the 16m boat stranded on the river bank. The incident was reported to local police who undertook search operations and apprehended the crew taking refuge in the thick vegetation.
Preliminary investigation revealed that the boat was allegedly carrying an illegal transhipment of textile/garments to a neighbouring country. Joint investigation by concerned agencies is underway, to ascertain the modus operandi of the smugglers. The joint operation has once again reinforced the synergy of the Indian Coast Guard with various stakeholders and also validated the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) between the ICG and Customs.