The Indian Customs Preventive Unit, after foiling an alleged smuggling attempt on the high seas, seized a Sri Lankan Fibreglass Plastic Boat (FPB) near the second island in the Gulf of Mannar region even as two persons onboard the boat escaped, The Hindu newspaper reported.
Customs Superintendent M. Pugazhendhi, who was part of the team, said that acting on a tip-off about smuggling activity, a seven-member team, comprising three Superintendents and four Sea Crew, launched patrolling on a hired ‘vallam’ (country boat) in the Gulf of Mannar region on Wednesday night when they sighted the boat near the island.
He said that when they reached the second island, two persons onboard the FPB approached them, obviously mistaking their vallam for the ‘contraband supply’ boat. The Customs personnel surrounded the boat. When the team members questioned the two, they grew suspicious and jumped into the sea. While one escaped under the cover of darkness, the other called them for help as he could not swim, he also said.
Pugazhendhi said that the officials brought him to the shore and when they sighted another boat and followed the signal, the “rescued” man escaped under the cover of darkness.
During the brief interrogation before his escape, the Sri Lankan national said that they arrived to purchase fishing gear.
After alerting the various security agencies, the Customs officials brought the FPB to the naval jetty here.
They registered a case under the Customs Special Act after seizing 49,500 Sri Lankan currencies from the boat, he said. Customs Superintendents A. Sampathkumar and S. Raja were also in the patrolling team.
Marine Police of Coastal Security Group (CSG), Q Branch police and the local police have launched a search for the two persons, who were suspected to be hiding in Danushkodi.
Superintendent of Police N. Manivannan said that he had asked the Rameswaram Deputy Superintendent of Police to submit a report on the issue. (Colombo Gazette)