Pirates, cops in water war

Pirates and police were locked in a fierce gunbattle in the middle of river Vidya in the Sunderbans early on Saturday.

By Kinsuk Basu in Sunderbans
  • Published 29.10.17
  •  

Sunderbans: Pirates and police were locked in a fierce gunbattle in the middle of river Vidya in the Sunderbans early on Saturday.

The pirates, who fled into Hamalberia jungle in the face of counter-firing, had possibly targeted a Bangladesh-bound cargo vessel, coastal police said on Saturday.

The forest department has been alerted and a combing operation launched jointly with the police to track down the gang.

A team from Jharkhali coastal police station was on river patrol late on Friday when it spotted a country boat moving around suspiciously. After chasing the boat for few kilometres, the police team finally closed in and an officer signalled at the boat to stop. Those inside the boat started firing at the police.

"This is quite unusual. The deck of the fast interceptor boat being bullet-proof, no cop was injured," said Saikat Ghosh, additional superintendent of police, Baruipur.

The police team fired back even as the gang sped away for around half a kilometre before the gang jumped on a bank and disappeared into the darkness, leaving the boat behind.

"We have recovered two country-made arms and six empty cartridges from the boat," an officer of Jharkhali coastal police station said.

The area around Jharkhali in the Sunderbans has several cargo ships anchored at night. Most of them carry cargo to Bangladesh, some carry fly ash from Budge Budge as well as food and other items.

"We carry out intense patrolling on fast interceptor boats at night since several cargo vessels remain anchored," the officer from Jharkhali coastal police station said.

Pirates from Bangladesh have remained a hazard for the coastal police in Bengal. Fishermen are abducted and poachers sneak into the forests at regular intervals.

Earlier this year, Bangladesh claimed 132 pirates- turned-poachers who were engaged in poaching in the Sunderbans had surrendered in response to a government rehabilitation scheme.

"The Saturday firing suggests that criminals are still on the prowl in this area," the police officer said.