US ship detention: UK seeks consular access
The UK has sought consular access to its six British nationals, who along with 29 other crew members of a detained US owned ship, were arrested by the Tamil Nadu Police for carrying arms and ammunition, reports said on Friday.
The country has also asked for a clarification on the charges against them after the Tamil Nadu Police arrested all the 35 crew members of the ship, that was detained on last Saturday.
The police detained the MV Seaman Guard Ohio ship owned by US company AdvanFort at the Tuticorin coast in Tamil Nadu on Saturday accusing it of illegally transporting weapons and ammunition in Indian waters.
A First Information Report (FIR) was earlier lodged against 10 crew members and 25 guards of the detained ship by the Tamil Nadu Marine Police.
According to reports, 31 assault rifles and around 5,000 rounds of ammunition were recovered from the ship.
The crew members were also booked for refueling illegally with 1,500 litres of diesel bought from a fishing boat.
Indian investigators were trying to determine whether the ship was involved in arms trafficking or was it a floating armory to fight the pirates in the high seas, said media reports.
Media reports said that representatives of AdvanFort in India had earlier met with Coast Guard officials to discuss the issue.
Earlier, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin had said the matter is being investigated and they are awaiting the report of its completion.
Deputy National Security Adviser Nehchal Sandhu had been quoted in media saying that the since there is piracy in the Strait of Malacca and in the Gulf, people who provide security need a floating armory and it is his suspicion that "the boat in Tuticorin is a floating armoury for one of these private security agencies."
He said: "My suspicion is that the boat that has come in at Tuticorin is one of those mother ships, which has a number of security personnel and a number of weapons onboard. The law will take its course. You know how the law applies."
He, however, said that it is not known on what mandate they got these weapons or had these weapons onboard.
(Posted on 18-10-2013)