Around 70 kg of charas in gunny bags marked as ‘Pakistan Rice’ was found on Maharashtra’s coastline in Sindhudurg district during the past one week. “When locals from three places reported sighting these bags on the shores, we first got them checked for the presence of explosives. Forensic tests confirmed that the bags contained charas and not explosives,” Sindhudurg Superintendent of Police Nandkumar Thakur told The Hindu on Saturday.

Police suspect that the bags might be a part of the illegal trade consignment of charas, which might have fallen into the sea more than a month ago. They have registered a case under various sections of the NDPS Act against unknown persons.

Last Saturday, residents of Devgad, Vengurla, and Malvan reported sighting suspicious bags on the coastline. The police immediately summoned the Bomb Disposal Squad, which confirmed that these bags did not contain explosives. Thereafter, they were sent for forensic tests.

“The bags have been hitting the shores since last Saturday. Till now, 69 bags, containing 1 kg each of charas, have been found. They were in gunny bags,” Mr. Thakur said.

He said the alertness of the villagers and the local fishing community made sure that any suspicious movement or sighting gets reported to the police immediately. “Nothing has been found today, but we had reports of sightings of these bags till Friday,” he said.

Sources said the gunny bags recovered from the shoreline were damaged due to the rough sea. Some had burst open.

“We found the growth of sea algae and forms of sea life on the bags. This means that the bags might have fallen in the sea at least a-month-and-a-half ago. We checked if there was any ship movement in the nearby area, but found nothing. We can’t say where these bags came from. Due to the monsoon, the sea is very choppy and the currents are from different directions. It is difficult to predict how these bags landed here, and where were they intended to be sent. We are investigating the matter further,” a police officer said.

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