While the coast guard intercepted a boat from Pakistan, its identity is yet to be established by security agencies
By Vishwas Kumar
The interception of a Pakistani “terror boat” by the Indian Coast Guard 365 km from Porbandar on the night of December 31 has raised alarm bells among secu-rity agencies due to a combination of internal and external factors. It happened at a time of heightened tension within Pakistan in the aftermath of Taliban’s brutal killing of school children in Peshawar, frequent clashes bet-ween India and Pakistan along the LoC and growing schisms in India over the rise of Hindutva forces.
A security analyst claimed that terrorist networks from across the border could be planning to attack some high-profile events such as the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (January 7-9 in Gujarat), Vibrant Gujarat Global Investors Summit (January 5-14) and US President Barack Obama’s visit for Republic Day celebrations in January end.
According to sources in the Ministry of Defense (MoD), the Coast Guard swung into action upon receiving intelligence inputs from the National Technical Research Organization (NTRO), the technical surveillance arm of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW). MOD’s statement on January 2 said that as per intelligence inputs received on December 31, a fishing boat from Keti Bunder near Karachi was planning some “illicit transaction” in the Arabian Sea. Based on the input, the Coast Guard intercepted an unlit boat and gave it chase for nearly an hour. Finally, it was stopped after warning shots were fired. Four persons could be seen on the boat. Soon after, they hid themselves and set the boat on fire, resulting in an explosion. Due to darkness, bad weather and strong winds, neither the re-mains of the boat or the persons could be recovered. The Coast Guard and other security agencies have been maintaining high vigil for the last couple of months due to several inputs of a threat from the sea, it added.
Intelligence agencies are trying to establish the identity of the boat, those in it, its mission and cargo. As the boat and its occupants have sunk without a trace, the agencies are left with only telephone intercepts and pictures of it prior to it catching fire. They are also coordinating with friendly countries to tie up
the loose ends to get a fuller picture of the terror mission.
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
One cannot forget that six years back on November 26, LeT members had similarly used fishing boats to sneak into India and launch an attack on Mumbai that killed 164 and injured 300. Pakistan initially denied these terrorists were their nationals, but this was later proved wrong.
The BJP leaders, in a congratulatory tone, taunted the Congress about how under the leadership of a weak Manmohan Singh it could not stop the 2008 Mumbai attack.
Meanwhile, a political slug-fest has started between the BJP and the Congress over this incident. The BJP leaders congratulated intelligence, security agencies and the government over the counter-terror measures, taunting the Congress about how under the leadership of a “weak” Manmohan Singh it could not stop the 2008 Mumbai attack. The Congress countered it by raising questions over the “authenticity” of this incident.
Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said: “There are speculations but I don’t intend to be part of speculations except saying one very important aspect—that the location (where the boat was found) is not a normal route for fishing boats.”
Hopefully, security agencies will be able to tie up the loose ends soon.