Mumbai: Days after families of sailors taken hostage by Somali pirates met the Prime Minister and the government widened the mandate of the Indian Navy to involve it in combating Somali pirates, Indian naval war ships in a swift operation captured 61 pirates. Vega 5, a cargo vessel hijacked by Somali pirates last year, was being used as a mother vessel to launch attacks on the high seas. It had made five failed hijack attempts 600 nautical miles off India’s west coast in the last few days.
Indian Navy’s anti-piracy patrolling fleet with the help of its Dornier aircraft off the coast of Lakshadweep located the mother ship with 61 pirates on board. On Saturday night after a long chase, at around 9 pm, INS Khukri and INS Kalpeni closed in on Vega 5 after the pirates fired at the naval ships assuming them to be merchant vessels.
Kalpeni fired back leaving the ship ablaze. The pirates and the 13 member crew jumped off and then were rescued by the naval commandos. Stepping up it’s anti-piracy initiative, this is the third mother vessel captured by the Indian Navy in the last 3 months. These 61 pirates arrested will now join the 43 captured earlier, but for the families of the 54 Indian hostages, these arrests don’t matter much. While the pirates will be brought to Mumbai in the next few days, this operation is being seen as the first sign of India’s new, more aggressive approach to tackle pirates.