IB, RAW now screening fisherfolk 'with possible terror links' let off by Yellowgate police after they drifted into ONGC premises last year
In a secret meeting of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), other intelligence agencies in charge of national security and ONGC, officials were stunned after an ONGC representative revealed that in August 2011, they had caught 28 fishermen who had breached ONGC's security points and entered its restricted and highly sensitive premises.
The matter assumes gravity for security agencies in light of the 26/11 terror crisis when six terrorists entered the city via sea. After being caught, the fishermen were handed over to the Yellowgate police and were later released. An ONGC intelligence source said, "We suspect that some of the 28 fishermen caught may be linked to the Pakistani terrorist group following which we had called for the intelligence agencies of India to discuss the matter."
Following the revelation, the coastal areas in Navi Mumbai and Tarapore have now been declared sensitive areas and would be monitored by RAW and IB. The officers have now begun to collect reports and details on the fishermen that were released.
Further, the matter regarding monitoring and regulating the movement of fishermen was discussed in depth among the various agencies and it was decided that the entry points of the fishing boats need a screening system so they can be strictly monitored.
According to the minutes of the December meeting, available with MiD DAY, the chairman of Coast Guard said that the joint commissioner of coastal police needs to keep a strict vigil on the activities of the fishermen and unmanned jetties and 56 landing points along the 44 km coastline to the south of the city to avoid a 26/11-type crisis. The chairman also asked the police to remain alert at all times, ensuring readiness for timely response.
When contacted, coastal police officers said, "When we apprehend any suspicious fishing vessel, we approach the vessel and check the documents of the crew. If we find the documents, we release them. Otherwise we hand them over to the Yellowgate police for investigations." "We investigate whether the crew is Indian and have the required permits. If not, we penalise them according to our regulations," said a police officer from Yellowgate police station.
As a precautionary measure, the coastal police conducted a census of the ships and boats on the 124 km Mumbai coastline. As per the census, there are 120 speedboats, 87 passenger ferry boats and 5,500 fishing trawlers in the city with more than 40,000 men working on them. After checking their credentials, the police issued them a notice saying that they would restrict any vessel within 5 nautical miles of the Gateway of India.