The 10-member crew and 25 armed guards on the ship were arrested in October after the Tamil Nadu police found deadly arms in their possession while passing through Indian waters. The kind of guns and ammunition found on the ship had baffled senior officials of the Tamil Nadu police, who may not have used or seen a majority of the firearms seized from the vessel.This newspaper accessed details of the illegal firearms that the ship was carrying to know more about the weapons that could have been lethal for legal users of Indian waters.
The list of guns includes at least two hi-tech SAIG M3 semi-automatic rifles, two Benneli MR semi-automatic rifles, 11 L1A1 self-loading rifles, five CZ 853 semi-automatic rifles, four Browning longtarc semi-automatic rifles, six G3 automatic rifles and Glock semi-automatic pistol, among other items, including a good stock of magazines and cartridges.
Interestingly, the G3 automatic rifles come under ‘prohibited arms’ as defined in the Indian Arms Act.Experts feel that except the pistol, all other guns are usually used for long-range assault and are well known in the ammunition world. The crew and guards of the ship have not been able to satisfactorily explain why they had entered Indian waters with such a huge cache of weapons and the crew has failed to produce the necessary documents required to carry the weapons.
The ship managers had claimed that the vessel belonged to a company which provides armed escorts, especially to merchant vessels, in the pirate-infested areas of the southern Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Aden. All the arrested men, including European nationals and Indians, are still in jail as the ‘Q’ sleuths are trying to find if any of the arms was procured by the ship crew from the Indian coast illegally from arms smugglers.