Maharashtra terror scare: Where did the AK-47s come from? All about the boat found off Raigad coast

The abandoned 16-metre-long yacht named “Lady Han” was found by local fishermen off Harihareshwar beach in Raigad district. Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a media briefing said that the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has been put on high alert.

Three AK series assault rifles and some small arms were found in the yacht. (Express photo/sourced)
Three AK series assault rifles and some small arms were found in the yacht. (Express photo/sourced)

A suspicious boat with three AK-47 rifles and bullets was found off the Raigad coast in Maharashtra on Thursday. Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in a media briefing said that the Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) has been put on high alert, and prima facie there was no confirmation about any terror angle.

Here’s what we know so far about the case:

Boat found off Raigad coast
The abandoned 16-metre-long yacht named “Lady Han” was found by local fishermen off Harihareshwar beach in Raigad district, 190 km from Mumbai, on Thursday morning. The yacht was found carrying three Ak-47 rifles and ammunition and some documents related to the boat.

Police personnel stand guard at Sagar Vihar Water Front, after the suspicious boat was found off the Raigad coast. (Photo: PTI)

How it reached Maharashtra
The boat was on its way to Europe via Muscat when it developed engine trouble on June 26. On that day around 1 pm, the boat’s crew was rescued by a Korean warship and handed them over to Oman authorities. However, as the boat couldn’t be towed, it was abandoned, and it then drifted to the Harihareshwar coast due to high tide.

Also Read: Boat carrying AK-47 rifles, explosives found in Maharashtra’s Raigad Beach, ATS put on high alert

Fadnavis says no terror angle
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said in a media briefing Thursday that there was no terror angle involved, and the case is being investigated by central agencies and state police. “We can’t rule out any angle as of now. I am just sharing primary information,” he had said.

Police confirms boat found in Raigad
Raigad Superintendent of Police Ashok Dudhe and other senior officials rushed to the spot and searched the boat and found the arms and ammunition.

Boat owner is Australian
The owner of the yatch is an Australian national Hana Laundergun and her husband James Herbert was commanding the vessel, the deputy CM said. The yacht was on its way to Europe from Muscat and drifted off due to inclement weather.

‘Weapons for protection against pirates’: Boat’s sailing master
James told The Indian Express that the weapons were meant as protection against Somali pirates, and that he was reaching out to Indian authorities for the past 20 days to get his vessel back. “I have been constantly mailing the Indian Navy about my vessel over the last 20 days,” he claimed.

James shares account from UK
“This yacht is owned by my wife. I was sailing with three others to Europe from Dubai. Our next halt was at Salalah (Oman) and later, we were to pass through the Suez Canal,” he told the Indian Express over phone.

“On June 26, there was an engine failure in the Gulf of Oman. We raised a distress call and were rescued by a cargo ship, Kyoto Express. I was unconscious as I suffered a head injury. The next morning, I was airlifted by a helicopter and taken to a hospital in Salalah (in Oman) as I had trauma. On the same evening, after my three member crew found it difficult to continue the journey due to weather, they were rescued by a Korean warship and they also tried to tow my vessel.”

Three AK-47 rifles and bullets found from a boat off the Raigad coast in Maharashtra. (Photo: PTI)

Raigad MLA seeks high-level probe
Raigad MLA, Aditi Tatkare, said she has requested the Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde for a high-level probe into the incident, and that it is a major security scare as it comes a day ahead of a big festival, which is Janmashtami as well as the upcoming Ganesh Mahotsav.

Also Read: Udaipur murder: Centre asks NIA to take over probe, terror angle to be investigated — Top 10 updates

Neptune P2P, company providing security to Lady Han, releases statement

“In June 2022, Neptune P2P Group provided private security on the vessel ‘MY Lady Han’. The yacht was damaged during a monsoon in the Arabian Sea, causing the Captain to declare an emergency. While the crew were rescued, the yacht was unable to be salvaged due to the extreme weather conditions.

“Earlier this morning, Neptune P2P Group were made aware that the vessel, which was presumed sunk, had washed up on Indian shores. Neptune P2P Group is working with the owner of the vessel and the Indian and UK authorities to determine the official recovery procedures of the vessel and controlled items,” the full statement read.

Weapons procured from Dubai-based company

A Coast Guard official said that it is a UK-registered yacht that was sailing from Oman to Europe, adding that the weapons found on board the yacht were procured from a Dubai-based Privately Contracted Armed Maritime Security (PCAMS) company.

“When the people onboard abandoned the boat, they did not carry the weapons with them. When we contacted the arms vendor (PCAMS), we were told that the serial numbers of the weapons found onboard match the ones from their inventory,” the official said, as quoted by PTI.

Police personnel check vehicles at a police check post in Mumbai. (Photo: PTI)

Maharashtra ATS in the process of registering FIR

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) said they are investigating the matter. “We are in the process of registering a First Information Report (FIR) under the Arms Act and will conduct further investigations,” said ATS Chief Vineet Agarwal, as quoted by News18.

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