A 16-metre-long yacht with three AK-47 rifles on board and owned by an Australian woman was found off the Raigad coast near Mumbai on Thursday causing a scare, though officials said no terror angle has come to light yet.
The discovery of the weapons on the vessel created a buzz as it came ahead of Dahi Handi and Ganesh festivals, but Maharashtra deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said as of now no terror connection has been found.
A life boat from the yacht was also found on the coast of Bharadkhol in Raigad district, an official said. Fadnavis, who also holds the Home portfolio, informed the state assembly that the vessel owner was an Australian woman whose husband was its captain.
The yacht was found in a damaged condition off the coast of Harihareshwar-Shrivardhan in Raigad district Thursday morning, Fadnavis informed the House.
“The name of the vessel is Lady Han and it is owned by Hana Lordorgan, an Australian woman,” he said.
The three assault rifles, some rounds of ammunition and also documents were found on the yacht, Fadnavis added.
“The woman’s husband James Hobert was the captain of the vessel which was going to Europe from Muscat. Around 10 am on June 26, 2022, the yacht’s engine failed and the sailors called for help,” the deputy CM said.
A Korean warship rescued those on board and handed them over to Oman authorities, he said. The vessel could not be towed as the sea was rough, he added.
“The Indian Coast Guard said the boat is stranded on the Harihareshwar coast due to the sea undercurrent. Both local police and anti-terrorist squad are investigating and all the police units have been ordered to be alert in view of upcoming festivals,” he said.
The Coast Guard and central agencies were in constant touch with the state authorities, he added.
“As of now, there is no terror angle. But investigation is going on. We can’t rule out any angle as of now. I am just sharing primary information,” he added.
A boat with a few weapons seized off Raigad coast today, near the Harihareshwar area… Maharashtra ATS will be on it; the boat is secured as of now. To rule out the terror angle or not will be decided later, Sanjay Mohite, Inspector General of Police, Konkan Range told ANI
The investigation is underway. We’ve retrieved some papers from the boat, more things lying inside the boat. We are trying to pull the boat away from the sea, State ATS Chief Vineet Agrawal told ANI
Fear of another 26/11?
On 26/ 11/ 2008 series of terrorist attacks took place in November 2008, when 10 members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamist terrorist organisation from Pakistan came on boat to Mumbai and carried out 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. The attacks, which drew widespread global condemnation, began on Wednesday 26 November and lasted until Saturday 29 November 2008. A total of 175 people died, including nine attackers, and more than 300 were wounded