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On the trail of the terror boat

December 2, 2008

Text and Photographs: Vaihayasi Pande Daniel.

At the quiet Chamar Godi, near Bhau Cha Dhaka Godi at Carnac Bunder in central Mumbai, lies a brown, wood-paneled, nondescript fishing boat.

It flies a white flag as well as the Indian tricolour. A saffron pennant is also attached to another mast. Its appearance is slightly different from the regular trawlers that plough the deep seas around Maharashtra's coastline.

It is narrower. Its colouring -- stripes -- are slightly different. It has less holds to store fish. It also has Gujarati writing on it. A policeman guards the boat.

This is the MS Kuber, the trawler that the terrorists apparently sailed in, from Porbandar in Gujarat to Mumbai. Fisherman around here say that the journey would have taken around 42 hours. When the Kuber docked in Mumbai waters, the terrorists reportedly disembarked using rubber dinghies and approached Colaba from different sides.

Says the owner of a fishing fleet at Bhau Cha Dhaka, who did not want to be named, "All fishing boats have rubber dinghies."

According to a Mumbai Port Trust official, the dinghies for the Kuber would have been stored in the hold.

At a closer glance -- no one is allowed aboard -- the deck is littered with three or four empty cooking pots, a large blue fishing net and a heap of dark material, which is difficult to identify.

The Kuber did not originally dock at Bhau Cha Dhaka, but came here a day or two ago. Says the port trust official, "Suddenly one day it was here. The navy brought it."

Image: The Kuber, centre, the vessel used by the terrorists.

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