Gurdaspur & 26/11 Attacks: Recurring Patterns

Two months ago the report of the magisterial inquiry conducted by Gurdaspur sub-divisional magistrate Manmohan Singh Kang into the incident of terrorists’ attack on the Dinanagar police station, on July 27, had been submitted to Gurdaspur district magistrate Abhinav Trikha. But the district magistrate had rejected it on the ground that it concluded nothing and it was mere a bundle of statements. He had returned the report to the SDM to conduct it afresh into the incident, revealing all the facts about it. It was submitted again in November.

In a recent twist to the case the Border Security Force (BSF) on Monday said they had not come across any evidence to ascertain that the ultras had infiltrated into the State from Pakistan. The claim of the BSF is contrary to that of the Punjab Police. Also, the BSF claimed that the latter had not yet shared any conclusive information with it in connection with the investigation of the case.

BSF Inspector General of Police (Punjab Frontier) Anil Paliwal said, “The BSF has physically checked the entire Punjab border area, but there was not a single evidence to establish that the terrorists had used the Punjab border to enter Indian territory from the Pakistan side.” Punjab Police had claimed after its initial investigation that the river area along the Indo Pak border of Punjab was used to enter India by the terrorists. As per fresh reports the case is all set to be transferred to the NIA, despite the state police’s reservations.

After the recovery of two Global Positioning System devices (GPS) from the terrorists, the focus of the investigation had shifted to where the terrorists came from and how they entered the country. A post-operation investigation was launched to establish the route that they possibly took from Pakistan.

Three days later, the police claimed that doctors found a glove on one hand of the terrorists. The glove carried a marking “Made in Pakistan”. This claim raised enough heat. It was questioned as to why the police did not find the glove on the first day when they conducted a body search.

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The marking “Made in Pakistan” and the GPS coordinates were evidence enough with the Indian Government to take up the matter with Pakistan on why and how the three terrorists came to India from its soil. However, the security agencies have failed to piece together a final report on the route taken by the terrorists based on the coordinates fed into the two GPS devices seized from the terrorists.

Gurdaspur & 26/11 Attacks: Recurring Patterns

Similar to Gurdaspur attack even with the 26/11 Mumbai Attacks of 2008 there are still unanswered questions related to the GPS (forgotten by the terrorists in the boat) and the route taken by the terrorists. Investigations have thrown up several questions about the last trip of Kuber, the Indian fishing trawler that the Pakistan-based terrorists used to reach Mumbai.

Did Kuber already had a functional GPS?

Owner Hira Masani’s brother Vinod Masani had told the Porbandar police that Kuber did not have a Global Positioning System (GPS). Masani told investigators that the GPS found on Kuber must have been left behind by the terrorists. However, according to the speed diesel distribution card permit, issued by the Office of the Superintendent of Fisheries in Porbandar, the trawler had a functional GPS. The permit was issued in the name of Kuber’s owner, Hira Masani, Vinod’s disabled brother.

Even the Justice observed that the Boat was tampered with

The trial judge had held that the prosecution was unable to prove that the Indian trawler MV Kuber, which was hijacked by the 10 terrorists on November 26, 2008, had not been tampered with before drawing a panchnama of it and bringing Kasab to Sassoon Dock to identify it.

The court said this would also raise questions about the GPS and satellite phones recovered from Kuber. “They are linked to the main conspiracy (with handlers in Pakistan).”

Justice Ranjana Desai and Justice RV More observed that ordinarily in murder cases, the accused directs the police to the crime scene, but in this case Kuber was found by the Coast Guard six nautical miles from where it was abandoned by the terrorists and was brought to Sassoon Dock on November 27, 2008 night where Kasab was taken to identify it.

The court said, “Here the case seems like the police went, found the boat based on clues and then came back and took the accused to the boat and asked him to show the body.”

Former Inspector General of Police, Maharashtra and Hemant Karkare’s friend S. M. Mushrif points out in his book that the DNA samples and fingerprints supposedly recovered from the fishing vessel Kuber that had been out at sea for many hours could hardly be credible evidence, since it could so easily be tampered with. The only witness who saw the terrorists disembark from the rubber dinghy at Badhwar Park and actually spoke to them, Anita Uddaiya, said there were six people not ten. Despite her proving her reliability as a witness by identifying all six in the morgue, she was not only dropped as a witness, but charged with ‘misleading the investigators’ as a punishment for refusing to change her story under pressure (Mushrif, pp.202-206).

The Curious Case of Anita Uddaiya

In bizarre circumstances the only witness who saw the terrorists disembark from the rubber dinghy at Badhwar Park and actually spoke to them goes missing for four days without even the police knowing about it. “Uddaiya went to toilet from where she was whisked away by the investigators,” said Madhusudhan Nair, president of Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Nagar slum area where Uddaiya resides.

Police said they have launched a manhunt for the missing witness, who had been taken to the J J Hospital earlier to identify the bodies of the nine killed terrorists. The missing persons complaint was lodged by Uddaiya’s daughter after she went missing from her house in the Cuffe Parade’s Fisherman’s Colony. The crime branch of the city police, which was the investigating agency in the November 26 terror attacks, had also launched a probe into the incident.

“We are also probing the disappearance of the lady since she is a witness in the case,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Rakesh Maria said. Even the Additional Commissioner of Police K. Venkatesam had no information about this disappearance.

According to Uddaiya there were four officers inside the posh vehicle that took her and one of them knew Hindi. It was later found that she had been ‘whisked away’ to the US for questioning by the US investigating agencies.

Now, she is a fisherwoman who couldn’t speak English and didn’t even had a passport. She was ‘whisked away’ to the US in doubtful circumstances and remained missing for four days and after she comes back her testimony was rejected on the grounds of her mental instability.

How did she reach US? Who took her there? Was it official sanctioned? Who sanctioned it? If not why wasn’t this aspect probed further? More importantly, what happened to her in US?

Surprisingly, in both the cases of Gurdaspur and 26/11 Mumbai Attacks of 2008 the Indian government sought out help from the FBI to decrypt the GPS data. Haven’t we learnt any lessons after seven years of the Mumbai Attacks? Isn’t it a failure for us as a nation when even for our internal criminal investigation we have to rely on help from US on matters as simple as decrypting the GPS data? Is it not still time for a new orientation towards understanding the nature and motive of crime and terrorism in this global era of liberalization?

As explained in our report titled Globalized Terror In A Liberalized World, in this modern era of privatization and MNC controlled liberalization where the battle for the third world resources is like full scale proxy war, a new dimension of terrorism is arising. There are various terrorist groups that are funded by the states which we designate as states that sponsor terrorism and then there are nations either democracies or transiting democracies that sponsor those states that sponsor terrorism. These nations and states use various terrorist groups for various economic and political agendas in the international arena.

We have to analyze the current Gurdaspur attacks starting from the Mumbai train bombings from this perspective, and our intelligence agencies need to incorporate this new angle if they really want to retain their edge in credibility of defending the nation and their motto to serve and protect people.

GGI News Analysis

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