Pak probe links terror boat to Baloch drug cartel, Parrikar says 'evidence shows terror link'

According to Indian Express report, the 25-foot vessel was captained by Yaqboob Baloch, a resident of the Lyari town in Karachi. Baloch is believed to work for Balochistan-based drug cartel of Mir Yakub Bizenjo.

FP Staff January 05, 2015 13:17:18 IST

The back and forth over a fishing boat that blew up off the coast of Gujarat following a chase by the Coast Guard has taken a fresh twist with new reports claiming that the boat may have been linked to a drug mafia based in Karachi.

According to Indian Express reports, the 25-foot vessel was captained by Yaqboob Baloch, a resident of the Lyari town in Karachi. Baloch is believed to work for the Balochistan-based drug cartel of Mir Yakub Bizenjo.

Pak probe links terror boat to Baloch drug cartel Parrikar says evidence shows terror link

The suspected boat. Image courtesy PIB

Bizenjo is a fugitive named by the US in 2009 as a leading player in the trans-border trade of narcotics.

Some reports indicate that there was little to suggest that the vessel in question really posed a threat, and say that the Coast Guard may have used disproportionate force in the incident. Doubts are also being raised on the MoD's version of events, such as the location in which the incident is said to have taken place, the way intelligence reports about the vessel were interpreted, as well as details of the pursuit.

Sources told Indian Express that the boat set out from the Balochistan coast, carrying alcohol, allegedly brought in from the Gulf  and a consignment of heroin.

Ibrahim Baloch, a Karachi-based fishing industry agent, told the IE that "Drugs and alcohol are sometimes smuggled with the knowledge of accomplices in coast guards… In some cases, Pakistani fishermen sell it to Indian fishermen, who take the cargo into their country."

However, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said today that the boat can't be that of smugglers. In a press conference, Parriakr said, "The boat was under surveillance for 12 hours. That it was stationed in one position doesn't indicate smuggling."

"Smugglers won't stay in touch with the Pakistan maritime authorities. And why would smugglers commit suicide?," he asked.

The Defence Minister also said that he is not speculating that there were explosives in the vessel, but the 'activities don't fit description of a smuggler.'

The Pakistani fishing boat, which was said to be carrying explosives, was intercepted on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1 around 365-km off the Porbandar coast, before it exploded and caught fire and sunk with four crew members on board.

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