© Business Standard
Is it an extra-terrestrial ship, a spy drone of Pakistan, a space vehicle, or one of those Chinese hot air balloons launched by locals? Rumours are swirling after reports came of an unidentified flying object (UFO) hovering over the world's largest oil refinery at Jamnagar in Gujarat, owned by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). The authorities are groping in the dark over the spottings.
Jamnagar is one of the refineries facing terror threat from Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to reports by the Intelligence Bureau came out last year.
According to the local police, an object in the shape of a red bowl was found circling the RIL unit at around 8pm on January 24. Though it was neglected as a one-of-its-kind incident, the object resurfaced after three days in the morning. Though some officials confirmed the development, RIL did not comment on the incident.
"Immediately after a complaint was lodged by the refinery at Meghpar police station, army and air force officials visited the spot along with us. There are various theories going the rounds, but we are on high alert. There were even reports of finding some unidentified particles and batteries near a cement factory, 150-km away from here," said a senior police official.
Investigators have already sent the footage and photographs of the mysterious illuminated object to forensic science laboratory (FSL) at Gandhinagar. Security has been beefed up with a 250-member commando unit of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).
"Investigations are on. We are coordinating with all security agencies including Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard," said Sara Rizvi, Jamnagar superintendent of police. According to reports, in a letter to petroleum minister M Veerappa Moily, RIL executive director P M S Prasad asked for a detailed investigation into the incident.
However, talking about the object sightings, Jamnagar collector Nalin Upadhyay said: "It is very difficult to ascertain what the object is because no flying object was detected in the radars of Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard. It was seen only over the refinery and by few residents near the refinery. However, investigations are on."
Among the many theories going the rounds also include experimental objects sent out by security agencies or meteorological department for measuring atmospheric data, as well as Chinese hot air balloons. Investigators added that some villagers and RIL employees had seen mysterious light but the airport authorities are also clueless about any such incidents.
However, one of the major concerns is that the images sent to forensic centre are not clear enough to identify the object. "A clearer picture would emerge once these agencies submit the report. Till then, it would not be possible to reach a conclusion," an official said. The refinery is strategically important, too, as it is close to the Pakistan border.