Pak crew manned Haldia ship with explosives

via published on December 10, 2009

Kolkata: A week after cargo ship MV Fani, which brought in 8,000 tonnes of ammonium nitrate was detained at the Haldia Docks near here; reports claim Thursday that Indian intelligence agencies are probing all angles; especially because all the 24 members of the crew are Pakistanis.

Primarily the authorities want to ascertain whether the ship has all requisite documents needed to sail into Indian waters and also proofs to establish the clear identity of all crew members. The Panama registered ship had sailed from Muugu in Estonia and has been docked at Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) since December 4.

Given the fact that ammonium nitrate is widely used to make explosives and was meant for the Indian Explosives Limited, a private company, for its plant in Gomia in Jharkand, intelligence agencies want to confirm everything about the explosive chemicals intended use.

Suspicions also arose as it was found that the explosives manufacturer had been importing the chemical in the name of “fertiliser” for the past many years.

As a result, the cargo used to be transported from HDC to Jharkhand in unescorted dumpers. Had it been declared as a raw material for explosives, the port was bound to inform security agencies and take necessary measures.

Moreover, given the previous instances where Maoists have gained access to explosive consignments, especially during transit, the authorities want to be doubly sure this time around.

 In November, the Bihar and Jharkhand police had seized over 100,000 kg of ammonium nitrate after raids in Patna, Gaya, Rohtas and Bokaro. This explosive material was meant for Maoists.

Thereafter, following instructions from central intelligence agencies, state police, asked the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) management not to allot it dock at the port and unload.

However, earlier this week, Monday, the police, without giving clear reasons, lifted its ban and allowed the ship to enter the port and unload.

As per reports, the cargo was taken out in open dumpers to be stored in insecure godowns outside the port premises.

A newspaper quoting an employee of the dock said several consignments of explosives were unloaded and stored in violation of the security guidelines in the past.

Meanwhile, judging the seriousness of the matter the East Midnapore District Magistrate Choten D Lama has summoned the port officials ordered them to thoroughly probe the antecedents of the ship and its crew.

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