Ship with combustible material being checked at Haldia

December 11th, 2009 - 12:50 am ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Dec 10 (IANS) Indian intelligence agencies were checking a Panama-registered cargo ship detained at the Haldia dock near here that was carrying combustible material that can be used as explosives. The 24 members of the vessel’s crew are from Pakistan.
The ship M.V. Fani, coming from Estonia, has been berthed at the Haldia dock in East Midnapore district since Dec 4. The cargo was meant for a company in Jharkhand, Indian Explosives Limited.

“It is carrying ammonium nitrate, which is used in the commercial explosives industry like in mines. But at the same time it can be used in making Improvised Explosive Devices (IED),” state police director general Bhupinder Singh told IANS.

Bhupinder said the police sleuths were checking the ship to see whether it has all the requisite documents for carrying such materials.

East Midnapore police superintendent Bastab Baidya told IANS that sleuths of the state’s Criminal intelligence Department (CID) and Intelligence Bureau conducted checks and spoke to the crew Wednesday and Thursday.

A police source said the administration Thursday gave the go-ahead to the ship to unload the consignment of 8,000 tonnes.

However, Baidya said unloading was yet to start.

East Midnapore District Magistrate Choten Lama has ordered the Additional District Magistrate, Haldia, to conduct an enquiry into the overall process so that security and safety was not compromised. She has also asked the SP to submit a report on the overall situation.

The explosives manufacturer had allegedly tried to pass off the ship as one carrying fertilisers, said a Haldia Dock official. “We received a complaint a few days back that the materials were being carried in an unsafe manner and the documents were not there. We asked them to stop the unloading,” said a district official.

Lama confirmed that the entire crew was Pakistani. “But I don’t know whether that has a bearing on the case. They could have been from some other country also. Before coming here, the ship had unloaded more than half of its consignment in Visakhapatnam.”

However, the fact that the crew was from Pakistan was learnt later, much after the ship was detained.

The state police initially asked the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) authorities not to let the ship unload, but reversed their decision a couple of days back.

However, following fresh objections that the cargo was being taken out in open lorries for being kept in insecure godowns, the unloading was again stopped since Wednesday.

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