Pak boat with 9 crewmembers apprehended off Gujarat coast

AHMEDABAD/PUNE: Amid heightened vigil, a Pakistani boat with nine crewmembers was apprehended off the Gujarat coast on Sunday   by the Indian Coast Guard.

Coast Guard Ship ‘Samudra Pavak’ apprehended the Pakistani boat having nine crewmembers on board at around 10.15 am on Sunday  off Gujarat coast during patrolling, according to a Defence Minister statement.

Preliminary information indicated the people onboard were Pakistani fishermen. However, “the boat and the crewmembers are being escorted to Porbandar for further investigation,” the release said.

The apprehension of the Pakistani boat comes days after the Indian Army conducted surgical strike across line of control, following which a high alert has been sounded across the land and sea border with the neighbouring country.

Earlier on Friday, the Coast Guard had said that sensitive sea areas off Gujarat coast have been “sanitised” and surveillance enhanced following India’s surgical strike on terror launch pads across the LoC.

Meanwhile, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Sunday  said it will take “some days” to bring back Army jawan Chandu Babulal Chavan, who is in Pakistan’s custody after inadvertently crossing over, but a well established mechanism through the DGMO has been activated to secure his release.

“He had crossed over which happens in border areas. There is a well-established mechanism through DGMO (Director General of Military Operations) which has been activated,” he told reporters in Pune.

“Since the situation is tense right now, it will take some days to bring the soldier back,” the minister, who was in Pune  to inaugurate a cleanliness drive in a cantonment area, said.

The Defence Minister said there is no relation between the surgical strike carried out by the Army in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the soldier crossing the border inadvertently.

On September 30, Chavan from 37 RR had inadvertently crossed over to the other side of the LoC  following which Pakistan had been informed by the DGMO on the hotline.

“Such inadvertent crossing by Army and civilians are not unusual on either side. They are returned through existing mechanisms,” the Army had said.

On Friday, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called up the family of the solider and assured them that efforts are being made to secure his release. Chavan’s grandmother had passed away after hearing the news of his crossing over to Pakistan.

Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamare on Sunday  morning met family members of Chavan at his native village Borvihir in Dhule district, north Maharashtra.

Bhamare said the government is making all efforts to secure the release of Chavan.

The minister, who represents Dhule in the Lok Sabha, also offered condolences to the family on the death of Chavan’s grandmother.