India Steps Up Coastal Patrols off Gujarat
India stepped up its coastal security efforts Monday after the Indian Coast Guard pollution response ship Samudra Pavak intercepted a Pakistani boat off Gujarat and arrested nine crewmembers.
According to defense sources, the fishing boat had crossed over the line into Indian waters – whether intentionally or not – triggering a rapid response.
The crewmembers are believed to be fishermen, but the Coast Guard took them in for questioning anyways, exercising an abundance of caution at a time of high tensions between Pakistan and India.
India's defense Multi-Agency Center warned Monday of an additional two "suspicious boats" en route from the Pakistani port of Karachi, and Indian naval and Coast Guard assets are on alert to intercept them.
India launched a cross-border raid in the disputed region of Kashmir on September 29, destroying seven "terrorist launch pads" on Pakistani-controlled territory. India says that the strike was necessary after a terrorist attack killed 19 soldiers in the town of Uri, which the Indian government blamed on Pakistani terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed. The recent unrest is the worst in the contested area in years.
After India's "surgical strike" across the Line of Control in Kashmir, four men were reported in the vicinity of the naval base at Mumbai, prompting fears of another terrorist attack in the city and triggering a major search operation. The authorities have not found the suspects and have called off the shoreside search, but coastal defense units remain on high alert.
Coastal defense for the waters around Mumbai has taken on especial importance following the November 2008 terrorist attack on the city, when 10 members of a Pakistani terrorist cell arrived by boat and went on a four-day tour of destruction. 164 died and over 300 were wounded in the assault. A lack of maritime domain awareness was blamed in part for the surprise attack: local fishermen spotted the terrorists when they came ashore, but the police did not take action when citizens gave them early warning.