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26/11 'terror boat' returned to owner

Source: PTI
February 15, 2009 17:55 IST
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The Gujarat-based fishing trawler, allegedly used by terrorists to enter Indian waters for carrying out the November 26 terror strikes, has been returned to its owner by the police after a local court in Mumbai granted permission.

The owner of the vessel, Porbander-based Vinod Masani, had applied to a magistrate's court, seeking the requisite permission.

The police had said that they had no objection to the boat being returned, Additional Public Prosecutor E B Dhamal said. "After instructing the owner not to sell the boat as it could be used as evidence in the cases pending against arrested terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab, the possession of the boat was handed over to Masani on Friday," he said.

The Kuber, with a crew of five Indian fishermen on board, was allegedly hijacked by Pakistani vessel Al Husseini in international waters on November 23. The crew, barring the captain, was offloaded.

The vessel was then boarded by the ten terrorists, who sailed to within a few nautical miles off Mumbai, killed captain Ajay Singh Solanki and launched a rubber dinghy to land on the city's shores.

"Our investigations as far as the boat is concerned are over as all forensic evidence has been collected," Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Rakesh Maria said.

"Masani is expected to return to Gujarat with the boat on Monday and no evidence has been found of any kind of wrong doing by the owner of the vessel," Maria said.

During the course of investigations into the attack, the police had recovered DNA samples from some articles on the boat, which were found to match that of sole arrested terrorist Mohammed Ajmal Amir Kasab.

Some tests are still being conducted to confirm that the nine other slain terrorists had traveled aboard the fishing vessel. "There were some tests which did not yield conclusive results, but we are expecting the results of other forensic tests soon," Maria said.

Investigators had also recovered evidence like a satellite phone, a Global Positioning System device and rations marked as being manufactured in Pakistan, which were listed in the dossier submitted to the Pakistani government by the Indian authorities.

Questions had been raised about how the fishing vessel had ventured far into international waters and about the antecedents of the captain of the vessel. However, police had said they found no evidence of Solanki's connivance in the conspiracy to carry out the attacks.

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