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'My father was not a Pakistani spy'

December 10, 2008
Reportage: Prasanna D Zore in Diu and Porbunder | Photographs: Sanjay Sawant

Dilip Amarshi Solanki, a 20-year-old final year student at the K D Barot College in Diu, is shocked, but fully understands the responsibilities he now has towards his younger brothers and his widowed mother, Raniben.

But he is aghast why people call his father a Pakistani spy.

Raniben weeps from inside her veil every time a policeman asks her about her husband's income, property and, more importantly, if he had ever discussed any details about his time in a Karachi prison.

Amarshi Naran Solanki, the tandel -- as the captain of a fishing boat is called in these parts -- was found dead on the MV Kuber the day after terrorists laid siege at Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Taj hotel, Trident and Oberoi hotels, Cama Hospital and Nariman House. Indian security agencies say the Kuber transported the terrorists to the coast off Mumbai, from where the murderers took a dingy to the city shore.

The bodies of the boat's crew -- the khalasis, as they are known -- Ramesh Nagji from Una, Balwant Prabhu, Mukesh Rathod and Nathu Nau from Navsari district, all in Gujarat, who are believed to have been killed by the terrorists, are yet to be found.

"He (Amarshi Solanki) was arrested (by the Pakistan Maritime Agency) some time in 2002 and returned some 14 months later," Raniben tells the policeman who has come a second time to record the family's statement, and begins to weep. A relative consoles Solanki's widow as his son tells "My father started his career in fishing when he was 30. He had become an expert in the last 15 years. Five years ago, he was promoted as a tandel because of his navigation skills on the high seas." His brothers, Hitesh, 20, a Class XII student, and Shilpesh, 16, a Class X student, sit behind him with moist eyes.

Image: Dilip Amarshi Solanki, the eldest son of the MV Kuber's slain tandel Amarshi Naran Solanki. Hindu Kolis in Diu traditionally wear a white cap during the mourning period.

Also see: On the trail of the terror boat

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