The load was meant to be smuggled to Sri Lanka
RAMESWARAM: In a pre-dawn operation assisted by the police, the Coast Guard seized more than 50,000 batteries meant for smuggling to Sri Lanka at Muyal Theevu (Hare Island), one of the 21 islands of the Gulf of Mannar.
Based on an intelligence input, the Coast Guard on Monday deputed a hovercraft led by Commandant D.S. Chauhan and an Intercepted Craft led by Skipper Roshan Pal Singh. Guided by G. Manivannan, Sub-Inspector attached to the Special Branch, the vessels of the Coast Guard searched several islands of the Gulf of Mannar and a few more seashore areas.
On seeing the speeding vessels, the crew members of a motorised country boat disappeared from the scene after anchoring at a remote end of Muyal Theevu, which is close to Mandapam.
It was found that the boat [TN-12 WV 150] was fully loaded with boxes of batteries.
After ascertaining that there were no explosives in the boat, it was brought to Mandapam.
Commandant K. Janardhanan, Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Station, Mandapam, told The Hindu that there were 67 parcels in the consignment. Each parcel had about 1,000 to 1,200 small and big battery cells. This is the first time that a huge consignment of batteries has been seized in the last several years. Asked about the possible purpose of smuggling, he said it could be utilised for both constructive and “non-constructive” purposes. Superintendent of Police R. Thirugnanam who inspected the seized batteries, said one person from Kilakarai, who reportedly arranged the consignment, was secured. Initial investigation revealed that it was meant for Sri Lanka.