THE Mumbai Police claimed to have busted a smuggling racket that illegally sold large volumes of diesel mid-sea to various fishermen in the city.
In a raid conducted by the police in the early hours of Wednesday, two boats were seized and 10,300 litres of diesel recovered. Six persons have been arrested by the
Yellow Gate police in this connection.
According to the police, one Rafique who owns a 20-foot fibre rubber tug contacted Indonesian cargo ship Kresh Jade and took 10,300 litres of diesel from it about 5 nautical miles off Mumbai a little after Tuesday midnight.
The police said it was illegal to sell large volumes of diesel without a licence from the petroleum ministry.
“Once Rafique’s tug had taken the diesel from the cargo ship, it transferred it to various fishing trawlers. In our operation last night nearly 2 km off Mazgaon Dock, we caught the accused red-handed,” said Pratap Dighvakar, Additional Commissioner of Police (South Region).
The accused are Mohammed Lakadwala (28), Monu Singh (26), Monurul Mandal (25), Naushad Quereshi (31), Akbar Subniya (48) and Aarif Baya (24), who were all on Rafique’s tug. Rafique is at large.
“The people on the trawler have been detained. We are probing for how long this racket has been active. Investigations reveal that various ships from other countries are involved, especially those from South Asia,” said a police officer.
Dighvakar said the police were investigating if Rafique was connected to any oil mafia or the underworld.
“The police have also impounded the cargo ship from Indonesia and detained the ship’s manager who will be arrested soon. We are trying to track where all the oil has been sold,” he said.
An officer said it was a discreet operation by the police between 3 am and 7 am on Wednesday.
“We went in trawlers. Around that time there are a lot of fishing boats. Hence, they were not alerted and we caught them red-handed. There were 12 officers,” he said.
The Yellow Gate police have charged the six accused with criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, and relevant sections of the Essential Commodity Act and the Black Marketing Act, besides several other offences.