The hijacked fishing trawler that brought the 10-man squad of terrorists to Mumbai’s shore on the night of November 25 was actually stopped by an unidentified Indian coastal patrol vessel — and let off because the suicide fighters flashed fake Gujarat government cards issued to fishermen, the lone terrorist now in police custody has revealed.
<b1>Inquiries are now under way with the Coast Guard, the coastal wing of the Customs and the Border Security Force (which patrols a disputed area called the Sir Creek area) to identify the vessel.
In a disclosure that indicates yet another failure in stopping the hit squad of suspected Lashkar-e-Tayyeba (Army of the Pure) terrorists, Ajmal Amir Kasab from Pakistani Punjab told his interrogators that they were aboard the MV Kuber 300 nautical miles (556 km) from Mumbai, off the coast of Jhakhau, Gujarat, when they were stopped.
They escaped by flashing Fisherman Identity Cards, issued by the Gujarat government. These cards were found on the Kuber, whose captain was killed after he guided the boat to Mumbai’s western shore.
Maharashtra too on December 1 announced it would issue smart cards to its fishermen.
The Gujarat Department of Fisheries of Gujarat issues these smart cards to fishermen of the state to help them prove their identity on the high seas and to get a mandatory customs okay needed before each fishing trip into international waters.
On the same day the 10 terrorists sailed along the coast of Gujarat enroute to Mumbai, a police station at the port town of Mandvi registered a case against “unidentified persons” for faking Fisherman Identity Cards.
“We have registered the offence and are investigating it.” said Police Inspector S N Jhala of Mandvi police station. “Till now we do not know who has been forging signatures of the authorities to get these cards issued from the Department of Fisheries.”
Earlier, on August 27, 2005, the local crime branch of the Kutch police arrested a man called Salim Amad Jat and found 76 fake smart cards with him.
Central security agencies are now investigating how these smart cards wound up with the terrorists. Kasab, injured in a gun battle with commados, is now in the custody of the Mumbai Police and is being held in a safe-house at an undisclosed location.