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Cops to seek DNA profiles of ship crew

india Updated: Feb 16, 2009 01:50 IST
Debasish Panigrahi

The Crime Branch is likely to ask Pakistan, through diplomatic channels, for a DNA profile of the crewmembers of Pak vessel, Al Hussaini, allegedly used to carry the 10 Mumbai attackers towards India before they hijacked fishing trawler MV Kuber on the high seas on the morning of November 23.

Highly placed Crime Branch sources told Hindustan Times on Sunday that this would be done with a view to matching the six sets of “unknown” biological evidence they had collected from the articles found on Kuber.

“We have reasons to suspect that the unknown DNA samples were from the crewmembers of Al Hussaini. Their interrogation has become imperative in order to know the fate of the four missing crewmembers of Kuber, who were taken hostage,” a source said.

Sources added that of the 12 DNA samples that had been prepared from the biological traces found on the trawler, only six had matched with that of the terrorists, of which one was Kasab’s. The biological traces had been extracted mostly from the jackets and blankets — 16 each — that were used by the terrorists and the crew. These articles bore markings of Pakistani manufacturers.

As per the revelations made by Kasab, Al Hussaini had seven crew when they boarded the ship on November 22. Of those, he identified three by name — Naushad, Umer Bhai and Hakim Saab, the later being the captain. Also present were top Lashkar commander Abu Kahafa, who had accompanied the terrorists to the ship in a wooden boat (Al Fauz, later renamed as Massa Allah) from a creek near Karachi. LeT top boss Zaki-Ur-Rehman Lakhvi was already present on the ship. Kahafa and Lakhvi went back soon after.

On November 23 morning, some of the ship’s crew spotted Kuber. One of the crew had waved a fan belt — a distress signal, following which Kuber had come near the anchored ship. Hakim, who knew Gujarati, called the captain of Kuber, Amarsingh Solanki, on Al Hussaini on the pretext that he needed help in repairing the engine.

However, once Solanki boarded the ship, Hakim off loaded diesel barrels, food items, blankets and jackets — required for the terrorists’ sea voyage — to Kuber, and made four of its crew hostage.