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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Pirates board ships at alang anchorage

ALANG (Bhavnagar): As night descends, a group of persons in a country-made craft approach a 10,000 tonne ship. They board the vessel and loot everything they can lay hands on. Iron planks, refrigerators, TVs, steel plates, machines...anything. The booty is dumped into the boat and the persons escape in the veil of darkness.

No, this is not Gulf of Aden, notorious for Somalia pirates attacking ships. The scene is in Gujarat's own backyard Alang, Asia's largest graveyard for ships.

Ship-breakers in Alang are spending sleepless nights since the last few months with local pirates on the prowl. The thieves are mostly from coastal villages surrounding Alang. The thieves are also known to enter the plots using sea routes from areas like Sartanpar, Bharapara, Mathavda and Mithivirdi along with other villages in boats in the middle of the nights.

Ship-breakers say from what started as stealing has now become a potential physical threat to anyone who tries to stop those indulging in the act. The ones carrying out the crimes are said to be residents of adjoining villages. The number of thefts has gone up from 17 in 2010 to 24 till July this year.

"The actual number of thefts is much higher than what have been registered at the police station. There is a strong nexus between thieves and purchasers of stolen material in Alang itself,'' a ship-breaker and member of Ship Recycling Association of India Haresh Parmar said.

Ship-breakers point out that these thieves don't fear police. They say things have come to such a pass that thieves are threatening the security guards with dire consequences if they dare to stop them.

The general perception is that an increase in patrolling along the coast and tough action on the part of the police can put a stop to the activities of these 'local pirates'.

Police claims to have already increased patrolling on the coast. Deputy superintendent of police, Mahuva division, D J Patel said, "We have taken preventive steps and are keeping a close watch on the plots. We will not spare anyone, including policemen, found involved in the thefts."


3 held for killing watchman at a plot

Alang police have arrested three persons who allegedly murdered a 45-year-old watchman at one of the ship-breaking plots. Watchman Sitaram Devmurari was killed on June 28. Sources said Devmurari worked hands in glove with some thieves and facilitated their entry into the plot through a passage. He used to charge money from the thieves for allowing them inside. However, they got angry after he started demanding more money. It was after the watchman's murder that ship-breakers approached the police with a complaint regarding rampant thefts at the yard.

Source times of india

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