Karachi-bound ship with arms detained in Kolkata

A ship containing explosives, arms and ammunition, and military hardware was detained at Diamond Harbour, a river port about 50 km from Kolkata, in South 24-Paraganas on Friday. The ship, registered with Liberia, was reportedly taking the consignment to Karachi, but had not made any declaration to the Kolkata Port Trust authorities.

Sources said the military hardware includes rocket launchers, cartridges, explosives and white phosphorous. Nearly five tonnes of arms and ammunition were found in the containers. Both the police and the Port Trust authorities are checking the ship.

According to a senior Port Trust official, the ship, Agean Glory, had come from Chittagong port in Bangladesh. There was no declaration on the part of the handling agents about the cargo that was being carried in the ship, said the official. It is mandatory to make a declaration even if the container is not off-loaded at the port.

It is not clear why the Pakistan-bound ship was passing through Indian waters. It was intercepted by Coast Guard vessels. Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) S Karpurakayastha said "the ship was detained on an intelligence tip-off."

After being interrogated, the master of the ship conceded that the vessel was carrying several containers that had high explosives and arms and ammunition.

"Our inspection is still on. A huge cache of arms and ammunition along with explosives for military use have been found in the ship. The port officials and the Bengal police detained the ship and started inspection. The Customs officials were also informed. They are now checking the cargo and examining the documents of the ship," said Bhupinder Singh, DGP.

"We have detained the master of the ship and the crew members. Our team has started interrogating them," he added.

According to sources, the ship will not be released till the Port Trust authorities get clearance from the Customs department as well as the Union Home Ministry.

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