The Congress and BJP on Sunday sparred over the seizure of a drug-laden Gujarat-registered ship off the Kenyan coast, with the former accusing Narendra Modi for ignoring security along the coastline.
Referring to the seizure of heroin from a dhow named Laxmi-Narain by Australian Navy frigate HMAS Darwin, Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi blamed the Modi government for failing to utilise grants allotted by the Central government to ensure coastal security.
Approximately 1,032 kg of heroin valued at Rs 1,600 crore was seized on April 22-23 by the Australian Coalition Maritime Forces and it was allegedly chartered in October 2013 to Gujarat-based Haji Bashi alias Haza Bhai Kathiriyain, whose brother Haji Ajij Kungda is an eminent BJP leader from Salaya city in Jamnagar district. Singhvi alleged that the ship was used for terrorist activity. “According to Terry Morrison, the commander of Australian naval ship which seized Laxmi-Narain, these drugs are used by terrorist organisations, including Al Qaeda, to conduct violent acts,” he said. Rejecting the Congress charge, the BJP said the ruling party was politicising the national security in a bid to defame the Gujarat government and protect Pakistan, from where the drugs were loaded by the smugglers.
BJP spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi confirmed that the ship owner was a Gujarati but clarified that he had chartered the ship for a year to a businessman, who had left Tuna port for Muscat and Dubai with goats and sheep on board the vessel.
Citing a report of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the BJP leader said agencies had confirmed that the drugs were loaded in a Pakistani port and it was headed straight to Kenya.
Picking up holes in the coastal security post the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Lekhi also pointed out the UPA government’s indifference towards Gujarat government’s proposals to strengthen the coastal security. She said the Centre ignored the state demands on several issues, including setting up a maritime check post, which is pending with the Home Ministry. “Even though the issue is of international importance and linked to Pakistan, the Centre is trying to protect Pakistan and denigrate its own state of Gujarat. If this is not sinister politics, what else is,” Lekhi asked.
On the seizure of heroin and subsequent probe, sources said the state CID was investigating the matter. It is confirmed that the vessel was registered in Veraval and had Gujarati sailors on board.
“The DRI, Intelligence Bureau, Customs and special ops are probing the case to find out whether the drugs were loaded or unloaded at any Indian port by the suspected drug trafficking ring. Gujarati sailors are also being questioned,” they said.